Elevators are the safest form of transport: Here’s why

For the average city worker, a single day can be filled with elevator journeys. From London underground commutes to multi storey office blocks, and even in our homes, the vast majority of us step into lifts without having to think twice about our personal safety.

In fact, thanks to the modern electric safety mechanisms, lifts are considered one of the safest forms of transportation, significantly less risky than taking an escalator or even a flight of stairs. This finding demonstrates just how far elevator technology has come since its earliest days, when they first appeared on scene as primitive, frightening metal containers.

At Premier Platform Lifts, we pride ourselves on remaining at the forefront of lift design and performance without ever compromising on safety. There are a huge number of complex systems which provide fail-safe protection for all well-maintained elevators. To ensure your peace of mind, we’ve identified three of the most important features of elevator technology, in order to give you an insight into lifts are such a safe way to travel.

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Lift cables can hold the weight of several elevator cars at a time

Cables are usually made out of high tensile steel wires, woven together to form incredibly strong lengths of metal rope. They play a crucial role, increasing lift capacity, and controlling and reducing elevator speed.

Each of these cables is strong enough to hold more than the weight of a full elevator car. As a single lift can be supported by up to eight cables, passengers are very securely suspended throughout the duration of their journey.

Speed, size and the full height of the lift tower are all factors which dictate how many cables are required for any given elevator car. There will always be at least two cables, so that even if there is an incident and one of them were to snap, the remaining cable would be able to support the lift and prevent an accident.

It takes a severe, freak occurrence for all the cables to snap, and these situations are incredibly rare. Even when these events have occurred, cables which run beneath the car are able to reduce the speed of descent and cushion the landing, preventing accidents from becoming life threatening.

Powerful automatic brakes keep you safe

The biggest risk to elevator safety is neglect. A well maintained system has automatic checking features which work to continually ensure maximum safety. If this system is disabled, or poorly looked after, then passengers are put at risk.

Premier Platform Lifts provide a comprehensive 12 month warranty for all our products, as well as additional aftercare packages. Through these packages we offer more frequent service visits per year and a 24/7 response service, ensuring an outstanding level of lift maintenance and safety.

Automatic lift checking systems are designed to react to certain events which indicate that there is a problem within the lift. These include the door failing to open or close, a sudden increase in speed, and someone pressing the emergency button.

In any of these situations, the system shuts off its motor and activates the brakes. By this same system, any power failures affecting the building as a whole will also automatically trigger the lift brake, leaving the car safely suspended.

The brake itself is metal device situated beneath the car. When activated, it pushes out against the guiding cables, creating a swift but steady build of friction which brings the lift carriage to a halt.

Lift counterweights offer protection and support

Located in the centre of London, The Leadenhall Building (otherwise known as ‘The Cheesegrater’) provides an excellent insight into the working of a counter-weighted elevator system. From the street outside you can see these weights and cars in action.

Counterweights are suspended on the opposite end of the cable ropes to the building’s main passenger lift. They weigh slightly more than the empty car, and this balance reduces the amount of energy the brakes and motor need to exert during travel. They also act as a vital source of support.

As well as assisting the motion of lift during everyday use, counterweights also act as a safety net for the brakes and cables during an emergency. If the aforementioned safety features were for some reason unable to spring into action, the counterweights would drop, pushing the passenger car upwards. Instead of landing, the lift would be pushed against a cushion at the very top of the lift tower.

This safety mechanism does have some limitations. For instance, it cannot lift a fully loaded elevator car to safety. It does, however, have the potential to dramatically slow its descent, which is why it remains an important part of lift safety.