People can, and have, got killed
using elevators, or what in India are called lifts. Others have had limbs severed by these
heavy metallic machines that carry people up and down high-rise buildings.
The management at Otis Elevator Company
(India) has strong views on this subject. The company, whose main competitors until
recently were much smaller local companies that grabbed business with their low prices, is
that the local companies are careless about safety and maintenance -- crucial with
products like elevators. But these concerns come with a price tag attached. Raj Bajaaj,
Otis''s managing director, believes Otis must educate customers and build awareness about
safety and maintenance.
About three years ago, Otis had
participated, as a member of Indian Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers Association,
in making a representation to the Bureau of Indian Standards, to ban collapsible (grill)
gate elevators, which the company considers unsafe. The bureau has recommended that
manufacturers be given till 1999 to phase out the grill format completely. The
recommendation was supposed to be implemented by state governments. However, this year has
shown no signs yet of any developments in that direction.
Bajaaj finds this very frustrating. He
avers that upgradation to the safer format of non-perforated collapsible gates doesn''t
cost much -- between Rs 1,000 and Rs 3,000 per gate, depending on the material used.
Otis itself offers a
vertical serrated metal format that costs it an additional Rs 3,000 per gate. Other
options are -- using flexible, non-perforated material to cover the grill, or putting a
solid door on the outer section while retaining the grill inside. The idea is to prevent
people putting their hands through, which is the biggest cause of elevator accidents. The last
is a more common format, seen in many office buildings and some residential buildings
Incidentally, the Kerala
government had banned the grill gate format even before the IEEMA approached the bureau.
Bajaaj feels safety standards would spread across the country if other state governments
take a similar view. It may, however, only be a matter of time before such a ban gathers
strength in India. The rest of the world moved away from grill gates years ago.