Newspaper article The Daily Yomiuri (Toyko, Japan)

EDITORIAL: Elevator Maintenance, Management Must Not Be Left Only to Five Senses

Newspaper article The Daily Yomiuri (Toyko, Japan)

EDITORIAL: Elevator Maintenance, Management Must Not Be Left Only to Five Senses

Article excerpt

To ensure the safety of a manufactured product, it is vital to have in-depth knowledge of its structure. A recent court ruling confirmed afresh this obvious principle, specifically concerning product maintenance and management.

In June 2006, there was an accident at a condominium in Minato Ward, Tokyo, in which a high school student who lived in the building was killed in an elevator manufactured by Schindler Elevator K.K. The elevator suddenly began ascending with its door wide open, causing the boy to become wedged between its floor and the door frame.

The Tokyo District Court found the chairman and two other executives of the company that was in charge of maintaining and managing Schindler's elevators -- SEC Elevator Co. -- guilty of professional negligence resulting in death. Suspended prison terms were handed down to all three. The defendants appealed the ruling, while the former division chief of Schindler Elevator was acquitted over the fatal accident.

SEC Elevator took over the maintenance and management of that elevator from Schindler in April 2006 and had conducted a safety checkup on it nine days before the accident. The most contentious point in the trial involved determining exactly when excessive abrasion had caused the elevator's brake parts to become defective -- which is believed to have caused the accident. A large amount of time was spent on such procedures as hearing expert opinions, and the trial was lengthy as a result.

The court decision said the excessive abrasion in the brake parts should be considered to have rendered them defective by the time the checks took place, pinning responsibility on SEC Elevator for neglecting to fix the abnormality.

The ruling viewed as a serious matter the fact that SEC Elevator maintained and managed the elevator without sufficiently examining its makeup. The company did not even obtain the elevator's maintenance manual from Schindler Elevator, the ruling noted.

Majority lack dual brakes

Such lax practices as allowing the checking of elevators to depend solely on workers' personal experience are not limited to SEC Elevator, some experts have said. …

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