The behaviour of passengers is the most critical factor in the safe usage of lifts. Most injuries occurring in lifts can be avoided by correct placement in the car, heeding the threshold and paying close attention to the doors.
A great many injuries are caused by lift doors. When entering a lift, the safest place is near the rear wall away from the doors. If coattails or backpack straps are caught between the closing doors, the passenger is in immediate danger when the lift starts moving, When the doors start closing, there is also a danger of tripping over or crushing. The heavy metal doors of a goods and passenger lift can cause severe injuries to fingers caught between the doors.
Particular care should be exercised when travelling with young children in a lift with telescopic doors. If a child presses a hand on the door when it starts retracting, the small hand can easily get caught between the door blade and the jamb. The same danger is present at the landing doors.
If the leash of a pet is caught between the closing doors, and, in the worst scenario, leaves the owner on the opposite side of the door, the consequences may be fatal when the lifts starts moving. Pets should be kept on a short leash when using a lift.
Lifts with no car door
Crushing is one of the major hazards in lifts with no car door. This type of lift car is quite typical for lifts constructed in the 1970s and 1980s. A large article carried in these lift cars can come in contact with the shaft wall while the lift is moving and turn sideways, crushing the passenger between the article and the rear wall of the car. When carrying a large article in the lift, the safest place is near the side walls.
Clothing too can get stuck in the shaft wall.
When entering or exiting the lift car, any elevation difference between the landing and the car floor should be heeded. Especially old lifts may not necessarily stop quite accurately at the landing level. This can cause a passenger to trip or stumble, and hampers the accessibility of prams and wheelchairs.
Unintended stopping between levels
Even well-maintained lifts can sometimes stop between two levels. Passengers trapped in the lift are not in any immediate danger, unless somebody is injured. Evacuation operation, however, should be executed without delay. In the lifts of old residential houses the emergency alarm push button activates a sound alarm audible only in the stairwell. In modern lifts, the control panel features a push button that opens a two-way communication channel to the service provider's on-duty emergency call centre. This enables the emergency call centre to provide the passengers with further instructions and to inform them of the rescue team's estimated time of arrival. The passengers should rest calm while waiting for evacuation, and, in any event, not to try forcing the doors open.
Safe lift travel depends on the behaviour of passengers:
- In normal conditions, the safest place is near the rear wall.
- When carrying a large article, the safest place is near the side walls.
- The lift car must not be overcrowded.
- Stay calm when in a lift. The sensitive safety devices can stop the lift between two levels, and e.g. jumping in the lift car can trigger the overload sensor.
- Children should be instructed in the safe usage of lifts. Small children should be supervised closely: small fingers are easily caught between the gaps of the telescopic doors or the thresholds.