Several campus elevator inspection certificates have expired
A majority of elevators on campus currently have expired Certificates for Use of Elevators displayed, but Brandeis is in compliance with Massachusetts law. The state is grappling with a shortage of inspectors and a chronic backlog of elevators in need of inspection, according to a May 10 CBS Boston report.
The Justice found 38 unique records for University elevators listed in Mass.gov records of elevator certificate expiration dates, listing expiration dates between March 1 and Dec. 31 this year. Of the 38 records, all but two have expiration dates that have already passed. The vast majority of the certificates expired on Aug. 31, although the one for the elevator in Skyline expired as early as April 30. These state records match what the Justice found when surveying the notices posted inside various elevators on campus.
The Massachusetts Board of Elevator Regulations, part of the Office of Public Safety and Inspection, “regulates the construction, installation, alteration and operation” of all elevators in the state, according to its website. The board defines elevators to include a range of transportation methods within buildings, including moving stairways and wheelchair lifts. All elevators outside of single family owner-occupied homes must pass “both an inspection and a practical test either annual or biennially,” and elevators that pass must have posted certificates, per the same site. Owners have to apply for inspections and pay a fee.
In an email to the Justice, Associate Vice President for Facilities Robert Avalle explained that elevator owners simply “have to request the annual state inspection before each certificate expires.” Because state inspections “are always behind,” he wrote, “there is a grace period as long as we have requested the inspection.”
Brandeis employs an external firm that “inspects [and] maintains elevators and manages state inspections,” Avalle added.
Brandeis is not alone in its rash of expired elevator certificates: this is a state-wide issue that has been going on for decades. The May 10 CBS Boston report found that Massachusetts has “a backlog of 4,500 [elevators] operating without a valid inspection certificate.” The backlog is a product of a state that has fewer than 70 inspectors to oversee more than 40,000 elevators, CBS Boston reported.
A 2014 Boston.com article chronicled the elevator inspection backlog, tracing it back decades. State auditor reports in 2004, 2010 and 2014 all highlighted similar issues with elevators going uninspected, exacerbated by outdated technology and inaccurate records. Boston Globe articles in the 1980s and 1990s also report elevator inspection backlogs, Boston.com reported.
—Yvette Sei contributed reporting.