Elevator safety issue raised

A letter of complaint filed against the Building Control Unit with the Office of the Complaints Commissioner’s has raised the issue of whether Cayman’s elevators are safe.

The complaint, filed by Androgroup Elevator Ltd. and signed by its Chief Executive Alan Roffey, suggests newly mandated elevator inspections are not being conducted on an equitable basis. These inspections, which are only required for new elevators, began earlier this year.

‘In our opinion,’ Mr. Roffey wrote to the Complaints Commissioner, ‘the reason these inspections came about, and the way they came about, is not only due to a sudden recognition of a major public safety concern, but also because of issues within the BCU that we have raised before, but have not been dealt with.’

The letter claims that elevators in a new building in Cayman were put into service without any inspection process taking place. These elevators were installed by a competitor of Androgroup Ltd.

‘They were inspected some weeks later by Mr. Frank Gozukizil, the Florida-based inspector BCU engaged to inspect all of Androgroup’s Elevator’s installations, and found to be deficient,’ the complaint letter stated. ‘The deficiencies are not yet rectified and they remain in operation.’

In addition, Mr. Roffey states that his company was called into three situations where people were trapped in elevators over the past month and that all three of the installations were done by the competitor company.

‘Each failed because essential elements of the equipment were never installed properly,’ Mr. Roffey wrote in the complaint letter. ‘Any one of these incidents could have resulted in loss of life, but luckily did not do so.’

Speaking with the Caymanian Compass about the complaint on Thursday, Mr. Roffey said his company was engaged to correct the deficiencies in two of the buildings where the entrapment situations occurred.

Although the BCU started requiring inspections of new elevator installations earlier this year, Mr. Roffey claims not all new elevators installations are being inspected. In addition, there is no requirement for the inspection of previously installed elevators. Other jurisdictions in the world require regular inspections of elevators.

‘We’ve always maintained if you’re going to have an inspections process, it should be all elevators,’ Mr. Roffey said. ‘Elevators should be inspected on a regular basis because they require constant maintenance and if they aren’t maintained, they will fail.’

Complaints Commissioner John Epp confirmed receiving the letter of complaint from Androgroup Elevator.

He said the Office of the Complaints Commissioner normally sets a timeline of one week up to a maximum of one month to decide whether to investigate a complaint.

However, because Androgroup Elevator’s complaint deals with a matter of public safety, Mr. Epp said he was going to make a decision by the end of the business day on Thursday. To help him decide, he set up a meeting with Mr. Roffey Thursday morning to review the evidence.

Part of that evidence will include e-mails from Mr. Roffey to Chief Building Control Officer Emerson Piercy, dating back to 12 September, asking for inspections of elevators Androgroup Elevators installed at Camana Bay.

After those inspections were still not done eight days later, and Androgroup was specifically told not to put the elevators into service before the inspections, Mr. Roffey wrote Mr. Piercy an email on 22 September, which became the basis of his letter of complaint to the Complaints Commissioner. The complaint letter was dated 24 September.

As of yesterday, Mr. Roffey said he had still not received a response to his e-mail from Mr. Piercy.

Multiple telephone messages and an e-mail to Mr. Piercy from the Caymanian Compass also went unanswered.

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