Don't Let Elevators Bring You Down

Office workers waiting for elevator

How many times have you tripped or stumbled exiting or entering an elevator? Of those instances, how many times were you carrying something? Misleveled elevators are something that many of us have encountered, and it can lead to serious injury.

A Robson Forensic study of 500 elevator-related injuries found that 25 percent of those injuries were due to misleveling, which elevator and escalator expert, Michael Vallone C.E.I., occurs when the elevator floor (car sill) is not level with the landing floor, creating a trip hazard for passengers who are accessing and egressing the elevator.

Misleveling is such an issue with elevators that technicians receive training specific to this issue in order to maintain a “zero-tolerance” standard during routine maintenance.  

While most building codes require quarterly or biannual maintenance, there are issues that just can’t wait -- and shouldn’t. The OSHA standard 1917.116(e) states: Elevators and escalators shall be thoroughly inspected at intervals not exceeding one year. Additional monthly inspections for satisfactory operation shall be conducted by designated persons. Records of the results of the latest annual elevator inspections shall be posted in elevators. Records of annual escalator inspections shall be posted in the vicinity of the escalator or be available at the terminal. 

Elevators and their technology have improved vastly in the last 10 years. This has led to faster, more spacious elevators with intricate mechanical parts that require regular maintenance. It is important that we do our part to ensure that there is a formal elevator maintenance program in place, to be aware and observant, and to have a process to report anything unsafe when it is observed. 

To prevent injuries from elevators, first, be aware of your surroundings and the direction you’re going. Allow elevator doors to open fully, stand clear of entering and exiting passengers, and step carefully.

Safety and Health Magazine outlines these Dos and Don’ts of elevator safety: 


  • Watch your step when getting in or out of an elevator, to avoid tripping. 
  • Hold the handrail if one is available, and stand next to the walls, away from the door. 
  • Stay calm if you find yourself stuck in an elevator. Use the elevator’s alarm or emergency contact button to get help. 
  • Reassure and calm anyone who is panicked about being stuck in the elevator. 
  • Stay in a stuck elevator – don’t attempt to pry open the doors. “The inside of an elevator is the safest place to be while the elevator is stopped,” EESF states. Stay quiet and wait for safety instructions.


  • Use an elevator in the event of a fire. Take the stairs instead. 
  • Get on an overly crowded elevator. It may be reaching its weight capacity, so it’s better to wait for the next one. 
  • Engage in horseplay. 
  • Rest on or push someone against a door. 

Also, as is the case with most potential workplace injuries, communication is key when unsafe conditions appear. If you notice anything -- a noise that wasn’t there yesterday, elevator doors not functioning properly, abrupt starts or stops, or mis-leveling -- report it immediately.  

Scheduled elevator certification is insufficient to assure safety. A more comprehensive program including monthly inspection, reporting of all irregularities, and employee education for safe behavior is necessary to control trip and fall hazards. 

MEMIC policy holders can access additional resources for elevators and related devices on BLR Safety.