Elevator company ThyssenKrupp fined $500K for violating Ontario safety rules

One of the country's pre-eminent elevator companies has been fined $500,000 for five violations of Ontario's safety rules. The Canadian Press / File

TORONTO – One of the country’s pre-eminent elevator companies has been fined $500,000 for five violations of Ontario’s safety rules.

ThyssenKrupp had pleaded guilty to the offences in Ontario court under the Technical Standards and Safety Act.

According to Ontario’s safety regulator, the company failed to perform mandatory maintenance and tests at a condominium in Mississauga, Ont.

The company also allowed an unsafe elevator to operate at another condo in east-end Toronto, according to the regulator.

In January, ThyssenKrupp was fined $375,000 for a potentially fatal breach of safety laws in which a man was injured.

READ MORE: ThyssenKrupp fined $375K after man’s elevator injury in west-end Toronto condo

Roger Neate, with the Technical Standards and Safety Authority, says the fines send a strong signal to elevator maintenance contractors that safety laws must be respected.

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“A clear message was sent … to both ThyssenKrupp and the entire elevator industry,” Neate said in a statement.

According to the regulator, ThyssenKrupp failed to perform annual elevator tests at the Mississauga condo by their prescribed date. Inspectors found the tests were about two months late in 2015. Other tests, required every five years, were also overdue by about three months.

Inspectors began looking into the situation in Toronto in 2015 after a dangerous incident. The situation involved a passenger jumping from an elevator that was moving with its doors open, the authority said.

ThyssenKrupp was convicted of putting an elevator that poses an immediate safety hazard back into service before determining the cause of the problem, and of permitting the operation of an unsafe elevating device.

READ MORE: Faulty elevators reaching ‘crisis’ levels in Canada: expert

“The court’s verdict says it loud and clear: ThyssenKrupp and the elevator industry will be held accountable when they fail to follow the law and complete required safety tests, maintenance and procedures,” Neate said.

In a recent industry report, ThyssenKrupp and Canada’s other major elevator companies complained bitterly about Ontario’s safety authority, accusing it of imposing stifling regulations. The report also denied the companies have any responsibility for breakdowns, delayed repairs, soaring entrapment numbers, or rising injury rates.

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An in-depth investigation by The Canadian Press last year found soaring numbers of calls to firefighters to free people trapped in elevators, reports of frequent and lengthy outages, and harried technicians who have little time or financial incentive to do preventative maintenance.

The safety authority has reported elevator incidents have risen significantly since 2011 and serious injuries are up eight per cent annually.

A private member’s bill, currently before the Ontario legislature, aims to improve elevator reliability by imposing time limits on returning devices to service. The industry report warned the legislation, if passed, would have dire consequences, such as leading to higher costs that could lead to tenants being evicted from their homes.

The report by the National Elevator and Escalator Association – dominated by multinational giants Kone, Otis, Schindler and ThyssenKrupp – blamed any problems on factors that include building owners who can’t or won’t maintain elevators and who don’t keep unhappy users in the loop; voltage fluctuations that cause elevator shutdowns; and traffic congestion and parking issues in Toronto that hamper timely service calls.

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