WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Consumer Product Safety Commission is stepping up its enforcement efforts on residential elevators to address an entrapment hazard.

The enforcement efforts come in response to deaths and injuries associated with elevators. CPSC is aware of 41 deaths associated with elevators between 2018 and 2021.  Between 2020 and 2021, there were more than 19,000 ER-treated injuries in the U.S. 

As part of its efforts, the CPSC settled a lawsuit with ThyssenKrupp Access Corp to resolve charges that specific models of its elevators could result in serious injury or death. The lawsuit cited three incidents involving entrapment in these elevators, including a 2-year-old child who died and a 3-year-old child who was left permanently disabled.

On Thursday, the CPSC also issued recalls for Cambridge Elevating and Custom Elevator, citing the danger these devices pose to young children. In the case of Custom Elevator, a 7-year-old child died in 2021, at a North Carolina vacation home, after becoming entrapped in a residential elevator.

The issue happens when the doors are not compliant with the 3/4 inch, 4 inch rules for safety to avoid child entrapment.

This rule is a national safety code effective May 2016. In the rule, the clearance between the hoistway doors or gates and the edge of the landing sills should not exceed 3/4 inch. The distance between the hoistway landing door and car gate or door must reject a 4″ diameter ball at all points.

Example of the space between the exterior hoistway door and interior elevator car gate without a safety device/space guard (Photo//CPSC)

Residential Elevator said hazardous gaps, including those mentioned in the recall notice, are due to the landing doors being placed too far from the elevator door at the time of construction.

Over the past two years, CPSC has announced recalls by Residential Elevator, Inclinator, Savaria, Bella and Otis to address this hazard. Another company, Waupaca, thus far, has refused to conduct a recall.

“Residential elevators pose a deadly risk to children. It’s long past time for all homeowners to address the hazard and ensure that children cannot get trapped between elevator doors, particularly in homes that are used as vacation rentals, by families who may not be familiar with elevators. A joyful family vacation can turn tragic in an instant, so we are calling on all vacation rental owners, managers, and platforms to do their part to help keep their guests safe.”

With the announcements, the agency is renewing its call for homeowners and vacation rental businesses to address hazards in residential elevators to ensure they can operate safely and to protect children from harm.

CPSC Chair, Alex Hoehn-Saric says he hopes to meet with groups representing vacation rental businesses in the near future and to encourage them to take more aggressive action to keep consumers safe.  This may include:

  • Explicitly notifying and warning renters about the hazards of residential elevators;
  • Requiring property owners or “hosts” to disable elevators until they provide proof of inspection or certify that no hazardous gap exists.

Residential Elevator said despite increased awareness of the issue, many homes continue to be built where the distance between the elevator shaft and the landing doors on each floor creates a large, hazardous gap. They are calling on a new national requirement that includes mandatory inspections to address the patchwork of state building codes as they relate to residential elevators.