In a prior blog post, we reported that the Ontario Ministry of Government and Consumer Services had instructed the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (the “TSSA”) to commission research that will pinpoint the causes of elevator unreliability and recommend solutions to address those problems. Retired Superior Court Justice Douglas Cunningham, with support from Deloitte’s Public Sector Strategy team, has recently released the TSSA Elevator Availability Study Final Report. (In the report “Availability” refers to the reliable functioning and timeliness of an elevator.)
Input from a number of stakeholders was obtained by way of interviews, workshops and surveys. Stakeholders included:
- Elevator users – including condo owners and residents
- Elevator owners – including condominium corporations
- Elevator manufacturers – 4 manufacturers, Kone, Otis, Schindler and ThyssenKrupp, were identified as the dominant suppliers in Ontario
- Elevator contractors – who conduct elevator maintenance and repair
- Elevator consultants
- Building industry – including condo developers and architects
- TSSA – the government authority that administers and enforces public safety laws and regulations relating to elevators
- Ministry of Government and Consumer Services – which oversees the TSSA;
- Ministry of Municipal Affairs – which administers the Ontario Building Code
- Emergency first responders.
Research in other municipalities and regions, as well as in international jurisdictions was also conducted to see how they are approaching elevator reliability.
A number of issues of concern were identified in the report, including the following:
- There is no commonly accepted definition of elevator availability and a lack of data on elevator reliability;
- There are no minimum preventative maintenance standards;
- Some buildings experience prolonged periods with partial or no elevator service. Condominiums surveyed reported the lowest average availability at 93%, the equivalent of approximately 25 days without service;
- Some elevator owners lack the technical knowledge/expertise to negotiate optimal service contracts;
- Inadequate elevator maintenance and modernization due to cost concerns;
- No standardized requirement for a specific number of passenger elevators to assure the same level of service in all buildings;
- Shortage of qualified elevator mechanics.
The report contains 19 detailed recommendations grouped under six broad themes:
- Defining and measuring “Elevator Availability” – It was recommended that availability be defined as “the ability of a building’s elevating devices to transport persons as and when required”. Convenience, safety and accessibility were identified as key components of elevator availability, with safety being the number one priority.
- Enhancing preventative maintenance and outage management. One recommendation requires contractors to report outages over 48 hours or where 50% of the elevators are out of service;
- Developing improved education and awareness for elevator owners on key availability topics, including contract terms, elevator regulations, consultant services, elevator maintenance/disruption and “end of life” policies.
- Developing standards for the capacity of elevators required in new buildings which would be referenced in the Ontario Building Code.
- Reviewing regulations and industry practices to enhance labour mobility and availability.
- Providing reliable elevator access for first responders.
Implementation timelines for the recommendations are also set out in the report.
The report noted that its recommendations to improve elevator availability could be more effective, sufficient and pragmatic than what was set out in Bill 109, Reliable Elevators Act, 2017, which has passed second reading in the Ontario legislature. (Click here to read our prior blog post on Bill 109.)