Expired elevator certifications raise student concerns about safety

Students Laura Lopez, Kenson St. Remy and Jasmine Spencer prepare to take the elevator to the second floor of the GUC. Campus elevators were not inspected until about one month after their certifications expired.

Expired certifications have prompted discussion among students about the safety of campus elevators.

The state of Alabama mandates all elevators be inspected and recertified once per year, however, campus elevators were not inspected until about one month after the expiration date, said Alabama Department of Labor Chief Inspector Ralph Pate.

Assistant Vice President for Facilities Administration and Planning Michael Gautney said if the elevator inspections were done after the certifications expired, “It’s because we have to schedule for the company to come in, and (the inspections) might be done after that date.”

The certifications expired June 19, and the elevators were inspected July 24, making the process about 30 days late, Pate said.

“A little over 30 days is not that unusual, especially this time of year when new budgets are kicking in,” he said. “We have a 60-day grace period after the expiration date before we send somebody to do the inspections.”

Freshman Maddie Bette said she believes the university should have the elevators inspected prior to the expiration date, allowing enough time for the recertification to be completed by the time the old certification expires.

“They should have received the papers by June 2014,” Bette said.

Gautney said a few problems were identified when the inspection of the elevators was completed, including call lights and an emergency phone being out of order.

Before a new certification is issued, all identified problems must be corrected, Pate said.

All institutions are required to hire a private company to inspect and repair on-site elevators, according to the Alabama Department of Labor.

Inspectors charge $90 for the inspection of each conveyance, and no certificate of operation can be issued until all corrections are complete and a $75 invoice is paid.

Gautney said the corrections that need to be completed are turned over to the university’s contractor, Otis Elevator, and some issues can be fixed in one day while others repairs may have to be scheduled for a later date.

He said he thinks there are still a few problems the company needs to fix.

However, he said he did not have the reports in front of him at the time.

Students identified concerns with various on-campus elevators including those in Floyd Hall, Wesleyan Hall, Stevens Hall and The Commons.

Senior Robin King, who works in Stevens Hall, said she had to use an elevator in the building over the summer and had a negative experience.

“Some time in June I was unable to use the stairs like I usually do, so I decided to use the elevator,” King said. “I got on and the doors closed, and that was it. The buttons wouldn’t work, and I couldn’t get the doors open.”

King said she had to call her boyfriend to come push the outside button of the elevator to get it to move again.

“Floyd’s elevator is slow and the inspection certificate inside is expired,” said sophomore Savannah Thompson. “If you look at some of the older elevators, you’d probably find expired certificates too.”

Pate said owners will typically call someone before the expiration date for inspections but it does not always get done on time.

Editor’s note: News Editor Ashley Remkus contributed to this report.