What Makes an Elevator Safe?

What Makes An Elevator Safe

There are many safety standards elevators have to adhere to in order to remain in operation. The elevator cables play a big role in the safety of an elevator, but there are many other components that factor in. Elevator cars are held up by thick steel cables, with between six and eight per car. Because each cable can support the full weight and more of the elevator car, even if one snapped, there would be no problem. All cables would have to be severed in the case of a freak accident for an elevator car to plummet. This is extremely rare. In fact, it’s only been documented twice in history.

The first was in 1945 after a B-25 bomber crashed into the Empire State Building. There was only one passenger and that person survived due to the cables underneath the car being able to slow the descent before hitting bottom. The second time was on September 11, 2001 when two planes crashed into the World Trade Center towers. The impact severed elevator cables and caused the cars to fall.

In addition to elevator cables, the electronic system as well as the pulley system must be properly operational in order to ensure safe travel for all.

Overall, there are safety systems in check that ensure everything works in conjunction with everything else. Prior to every run, an elevator goes through a series of instantaneous checks before operating. So, for example, if the elevator detects too much speed or the application of an emergency stop button, it will automatically shut off power to the motor and apply the brake, according to The Washington Post.

There are a few different kinds of brakes in any given elevator car. Any alerts in the safety chain will cause the brake to clamp down, thereby preventing further motion. Power failures will engage that braking system. On the underside of the car, there is another safety brake. In the unlikely case that a car would be speeding downwards, this metal brake engages into the guide rails to stop the car softly rather than jarringly.

The cables also have one more safety guarantee: the cables feature a set of counterweights on the opposite end that work to balance out the movement of the car.

Today’s safety systems are certainly refined and state of the art, but in essence, they follow the same principles they did a century ago. Fun fact: elevators can only travel about 30 MPH at their fastest. Descending will be slightly slower than ascending, as too much speed on the downward trip can put pressure on passengers’ ears.

Critical to proper operation of safety components remains regular maintenance and inspection. Get in touch with Mowrey Elevator now to schedule your next service call or repair.