The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) filed a lawsuit in early July against ThyssenKrupp Access Corp. over hazards in its residential elevator design and installation materials which resulted in one child dying, one child being permanently disabled, and a third child being hospitalized after becoming entrapped.
Just a few weeks later, the agency is taking legal action once again while asking the vacation rental community for help in bringing attention to the dangers residential elevators pose to children.
A 7-year-old boy who died in a North Carolina elevator accident was identified as Weston Scott Androw, who died on July 11 after he became trapped between an elevator car and the elevator shaft inside a vacation rental home.
According to the CPSC, it has filed a complaint against the German multinational conglomerate alleging that certain models of ThyssenKrupp’s residential elevators sold through 2012 were installed with a hazardous gap between the exterior shaft door and the interior elevator car gate that is proving to be a safety hazard.
Officials explained that children can become entrapped when a residential elevator is installed with excessive space between the exterior door and the interior gate, and suffer serious injuries or death when the elevator is called to another floor.
Following another report of a tragic death of a young child in a residential elevator, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Acting Chairman Robert Adler today asked the vacation rental community for help.
In a letter to vacation rental platforms, AirBnB, Vrbo, and others, Adler urged the companies to take steps immediately to protect vulnerable consumers.
“The agency is taking steps with the manufacturers, but we need the businesses that facilitate vacation rentals to join us,” said Adler. “These injuries and deaths are horrific, and we need property owners and rental agencies to disable elevators immediately until they have been inspected.”
Residential elevators pose a hidden and deadly hazard: small children can be crushed to death in a gap that may exist between the doors.
If the gap between any exterior (i.e., hoistway) door, and the farthest point of the inner door (which is often an accordion door) is too deep, a child can enter and close the hoistway door without opening the interior car door, and become entrapped between the two doors, resulting in serious injuries or death when the elevator car moves.
Children, some as young as two, and as old as 12, have been crushed to death in this gap, suffering multiple skull fractures, fractured vertebrae and traumatic asphyxia.
Other children have suffered devastating and lifelong injuries. Last week, a 7-year-old child was reported to have tragically died in a vacation home elevator in North Carolina.
Today’s letter is the first time the agency has publicly called on vacation rental businesses to take immediate action.
Specifically, the letter asks rental companies to notify all renters immediately about the potential hazard via email, or in a warning box on their reservation or booking pages; immediately require all members or “hosts” using the platforms to lock outer access doors or otherwise disable the elevators in their properties, unless and until those members provide proof of an inspection, certifying that no hazardous gap exists; and require elevator inspections of anyone posting a listing going forward.
CPSC has issued warnings, recalls and a lawsuit concerning residential elevators.
- CPSC Sues thyssenkrupp Access Corp., July 7, 2021 CPSC Sues thyssenkrupp Access Corp. Over Deadly Gap Hazard in Residential Elevators; Action Prompted by Three Incidents: One Child Died, Another Permanently Disabled, and a Third Hospitalized After Becoming Entrapped | CPSC.gov
- Otis Elevator Company Residential Elevators, December 17, 2020 https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls/2020/otis-elevator-company-recalls-to-inspect-private-residence-elevators-due-to-entrapment.
- Cambridge Elevating Home Elevators, March 27, 2019 https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls/2019/Cambridge-Elevating-Recalls-Home-Elevators-Due-to-Fall-Hazard.
- Waupaca Elevator Home Elevators, October 25, 2018 https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls/2019/Waupaca-Elevator-Recalls-to-Inspect-Elevators-Due-to-Injury-Hazard.
- Porta Residential Elevators, August 3, 2016 https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls/2016/Porta-Recalls-Residential-Elevators.
- Coastal Carolina Residential Elevators, March 19, 2015 https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls/2015/Childs-Catastrophic-Brain-Injury-Prompts-Recall-of-Residential-Elevators.
- ThyssenKrupp Access Manufacturing Residential Elevators, September 20, 2012 https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls/2012/Residential-Elevators-Recalled-for-Repair-by-ThyssenKrupp-Access-Manufacturing-Due-to-Fall-Hazard.
For more safety information, see CPSC’s safety education messages on residential elevators.
- Vacation Rental Homes Can Pose a Deadly Hazard – Kids Can Be Crushed to Death in Dangerous Home Elevator Gaps | CPSC.gov
- As Family Vacations Resume, CPSC Warns of Safety Hazards in Vacation Rental Homes | CPSC.gov
CPSC will continue its investigation into the safety of residential elevators, and advises consumers to report any safety incident involving residential elevators at www.SaferProducts.gov.