On March 19, 2015, the government announced a recall of Elmira Hydraulic residential hydraulic elevators, installed in homes with multiple floors. Despite the foreseeability of such elevators being used in environments with small children, these products were sold with a significant defect – the elevator can operate while the gate door is open, posing a crushing hazard.
The distributor, Coastal Carolina Elevators, reportedly received three reports of incidents with the elevators, including a catastrophic brain injury to a 10-year-old boy from Baltimore, Maryland.
Hazards presented by products manufactured and sold for use in home environments, where young children are expected to be living and playing, account for numerous deaths and significant injuries each year. It is incumbent upon designers, manufacturers and retailers of such items to consider the environment of end use, and understand the expected ages of the consumers. This duty is heightened when the hazard is potentially life threatening or life altering. Often, relatively simple and feasible safety devices can and should be implemented. For example, with regard to the residential elevators, an engineering change ensuring that the elevator cannot operate unless the door is closed should have been implemented, similar to how many elevators operate for safety reasons.
Parents and caregivers – please carefully inspect the operation of home appliances and products. Do not assume that because a product is sold in the United States, that it is necessarily safe. This example highlights that safety standards are not always followed by manufacturers, and that in some instances, the standards themselves are inadequate..