58% citizens who use lifts and surveyed have had one or more family members getting stuck in a lift in last 3 years; 76% want government to bring mandatory standards for lift maintenance
- ● Only 46% citizens say they have an AMC contract with the manufacturer
- ● 5% say no one maintains their lift, 7% say its their society staff who does it and 42% use a third-party contractor for maintenance
August 6, 2023, New Delhi: On August 3rd, a 70-year-old lady residing in Noida’s Paras Tiera society in sector 137 had her life cut short due to a lift malfunction. She was trapped in the lift for 45 minutes, experiencing a terrifying free fall followed by sudden ascent and despite rushing to a hospital next door, she could not be saved. Media reports say the AMC for lift maintenance had expired a few months ago in June. Blame games are being played between residents and AOA and the lift company but life of a commoner is lost for no fault of theirs. Such incidents of people getting stuck in lifts, free fall of lifts are common across Delhi NCR and the whole country. Last week, two kids under 10 in Hyderabad had a just in time escape before they exited a lift and it went crashing down. Such incidents are common not just in residential societies, but office buildings, shopping malls, factories and several other establishment types.
For the last couple of years elevator or lift makers in India have been lobbying for a uniform Lift Act across the country that ensures minimum safety standards and specifications in the vertical transportation industry. Though the Indian Standards on lifts have been in existence for many years (the current series of Lift Standards was published in the years 1999 to 2001), typically the Indian Standards are voluntary in nature, according to a report published by Elevator World. A few standards are made mandatory for the BIS mark to protect consumer health and safety, and a few others are covered under the compulsory registration scheme. However, some states, e.g., Kerala, Tami Nadu, Karnataka, Jharkhand and Haryana, have incorporated clauses in their respective Lift Act and Lift Rules making compliance to the relevant latest Indian Standards on the Lifts and Escalators compulsory. Lifts and escalators are regulated through the National Building Code of India, as well. New Indian Standard IS 17491:2020 was released by BIS in 2022, to guide users on enhanced safety features and upgrades required for old lifts running in the building. However, the country lacks mandatory standards for maintenance of lifts thereby leaving the safety of lifts in the hands of society or property managers, AOA functionaries, lift owners, untrained staff in societies and third-party lift maintenance contractors. The construction, maintenance and safe working of lifts are regulated by the Lift Acts and Rules made in certain states however the validity of a license for installation of a lift and the license for use of lift varies from state to state. An inspector from the state department is supposed to certify new lifts and also certifies existing lifts as fit for operation. However, like most state licenses or Government certifications, the process per collective feedback, at times involves corruption and bribery in exchange for ignoring non-compliances.
Given this problem of people getting stuck in lifts and poorly maintained lifts being reported from across large metros on a regular basis, LocalCircles decided to conduct a national survey to gauge the magnitude of the issue and find a way forward. The survey received over 42,000 responses from citizens located in 329 districts of India. 61% respondents were men while 39% respondents were women. 47% respondents were from tier 1, 36% from tier 2 and 17% respondents were from tier 3, 4 and rural districts.
58% of those who have lifts in their society/house and surveyed say they or someone in the family has gotten stuck in a lift once or more in the last 3 years
The first question in the survey attempted to understand the magnitude of the issue of people getting stuck in lifts. It asked them, “In the last 3 years, how many times has it happened that you or someone close to you in your residential building got stuck in one of the lifts or had a safety incident?” A total of 13,333 people living in buildings with lifts responded to this query with 58% sharing that they or people close to them have undergone such experience once or more times in the last 3 years. The data shows that 31% knew of or have had such an experience once or twice in the last three years; 11% have had such experience 3-5 times; 11% knew of or have had such experience 6-9 times; 1% responded to say such mishaps have happened to them or people close to them more than 10 times while 4% claimed they don’t recall how many times such mishaps have occurred. Only 32% shared that they or their dear ones have been spared such mishaps; 7% don’t recall any such incident in the last 3 years and 3% did not give a clear response. Feedback in community discussions indicates that the problem of lift malfunction or getting stuck is rampant across brands i.e. complaints have been received about ThyssenKrupp, Schindler, Johnson, Otis, Kone, Hitachi, Mitsubishi and several others.
7% claimed the lifts are maintained by the society staff/ other miscellaneous staff and 5% claimed that no one maintains it while 42% use 3rd party contractors
The next survey question focused on understanding how maintenance of lifts is done. It asked respondents “How are the lifts in your residential building (society or house) maintained?” Of the 13,954 people who responded 46% indicated that the lift was being maintained by the manufacturer; 42% shared that it was being maintained by third party contractor; 7% claimed it was maintained by the society staff/ other miscellaneous staff and 5% claimed that no one maintains it but when there are people on call as and when required. The last is a classic example of how little importance is given to proper maintenance of a lift, particularly in the building where you hope to be most safe.
76% in favour of Government making mandatory standards for lift maintenance
The last survey question sought to find out the way forward on having better maintained lifts. It asked respondents “Do you believe the government should create mandatory standards for lift maintenance and enforce it?” Majority or 76% out of 14,973 responded to state “Yes, this is a must” and 24% felt there is no such need as it will cause more problems or will never get implemented. Standards for only a few products like water bottles, pressure cookers, geysers, etc. are mandatory in India however standards for lift maintenance are suggested and not mandatory. One of the benefits of mandatory standards is that everyone has the same understanding of how a lift is to be maintained, be it the lift manufacturer, 3rd party contractor or even society or inhouse technicians and is basic maintenance standard is not being met, the lift would not be permitted for use thereby leading to compliance. Setting such a standard will also ensure that the state lift inspectors are checking certain basic parameters for any lift they inspect. Having them mandatorily upload the lift condition and their approval in a centralized database with every lift having a unique identification number will also help make things more transparent and compliant.
In summary, given that most new buildings and apartment complexes have lifts, which can be the case for even individual houses having more than one floor, it is important that the government frame mandatory rules for not just the installation protocol of lifts but also maintenance of lifts as desired by 3 out of 4 respondents to the survey. Going by frequent news reports of mishaps in lifts validated by the survey finding where nearly 6 in 10 lift users confirm that they or family have gotten stuck in a lift once or more in last 3 years is a concerning data point. Whether the lift is maintained by the manufacturer or the society or third party, there has to be a better oversight system to ensure safety of lifts and the same can be done through mandatory standards and information upload required by local lift inspectors. It will also reduce corruption and bribery which in turn will lead to less shortcuts and better compliances. As evident by the Noida incident this week, had the lift been maintained properly the mishap could have been avoided.
LocalCircles will share the findings of this study with Department of Consumer Affairs and the Bureau of Indian Standards so they can evaluate the feasibility of having mandatory standards for lift maintenance in India.
The survey received over 42,000 responses from citizens located in 329 districts of India. 61% respondents were men while 39% respondents were women. 47% respondents were from tier 1, 36% from tier 2 and 17% respondents were from tier 3, 4 and rural districts. The survey was conducted via LocalCircles platform and all participants were validated citizens who had to be registered with LocalCircles to participate in this survey.