Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Kliman: How elevator accidents happen

Joe Eskenazi of San Francisco Weekly continues to do great research on the death of Dan Kliman. Today he has posted scenarios of ways an elevator repairman can fall to his death from an elevator stuck between floors based on an interview with an elevator repairman he refers to as "Ozzy":
The first scenario Ozzy postulated involved an elevator car stuck more than halfway up the outer doors. In order to get out, one would need to force open both the inner and outer doors. Ozzy notes that many people in this situation choose to exit the elevator car feet-first while on their stomachs. And when one can't quite reach the "sill" of the outer door with his feet, then this becomes an extremely dangerous maneuver. When pushing oneself backward with the arms, momentum causes the legs to move upward toward a sitting position. Because of this, many repairmen have plunged down elevator shafts.

Ozzy's second scenario is perhaps even more disturbing. Many trapped elevator operators manage to pry open both the inner and outer sets of doors. They then sit on the floor of the elevator car and dangle their legs over the edge before leaping out of the car and through both sets of open doors. Instinctually, however, many balance themselves against the outer elevator doors - which, counter-intuitively, offer no resistance and move. This could cause someone to lose his or her balance and fall down the shaft.

"A lot of elevator men have been killed by forcing doors open and leaping out of elevators," said Ozzy. "Elevators are super safe. But when people get stuck, they want to get out as fast as they can, so they try to [escape]. Stay in there. Inside is the safest place to be - unless there's a fire."


Dr.D said...

These are very horrifying and entirely realistic situations. Few of us ever stop to think when we are standing outside an elevator door waiting for the car that the door is all that stand between us and a very long fall.

In the cases described in this note, the person stuck pries open the door, thus removing that safety barrier and then begins to move near that open pit. It is a loooong way down!

As long as there is no fire, elevator cars are really very safe, so the advice to wait it out is definitely the right advice.

karl.rosenqvist said...

I've followed the storyt of Dan Kilman since the tragedy.
First off it seems every group around that he fought for trys to claim him as their own martyr.
-Muslims killed him, angry over his support for Israel.
-Homophobes killed him for involvement in gay-rights-activism.
-Angry cardealers killed him for his bicycle-enthusiasm.
etc etc etc
Suicide or murder seems unlikely due to the complicated nature of his death. I mean, if I had killed him or attempted suicide there and then I would not have pryed open an elevator-shaft.
It's good that there is an investigation into it though as faulty elevators can be very dangerous.