How NYC paved the way for a Door Lock Monitoring code

“All automatic passenger and freight elevators must provide a system to monitor and prevent automatic operation with faulty door contact circuits by January 1, 2020.” – ASME A17.3 of NYC Building Code appendix K3, Rule 3.10.12.

In New York City, a recent city-wide code change caused a frenzy of work to implement additional door safety to all automatic elevators. The new Door Lock Monitoring code was introduced in 2014 in a bid to eliminate serious accidents caused by faulty door locks, and required compliance by January 1st 2020. Under the new code, no elevator is allowed to run without a safety device that accurately detects faulty door contact circuits.

Safety as the motivator

Here at Unitec, we dedicated a substantial part of our work to getting NYC elevators up to code in the build-up to 2020. We always encourage our clients to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to code changes so that there’s no risk of falling foul of regulations. 

Of course, for any responsible building operator, the big motivator for compliance isn’t the avoidance of fines – it’s about keeping people safe and preventing accidents. This should always be an absolute priority when looking at code requirements.

The cost of compliance

The Door Lock Monitoring code is one of very few codes to come into force retroactively – requiring not just new installations and modernizations to comply, but all legacy equipment had to be altered also.

When it comes to altering or upgrading equipment, there is of course a cost involved. And while it can seem tempting to comply only with the lowest level requirements until instructed otherwise, this specific code change is particularly important. 

When the New York City Department of Buildings declared this new Door Lock Monitoring Code, it was in response to a number of horrific elevator accidents ​where passengers were killed or left with life-changing injuries. These accidents were often a result of people being wedged between one or two sets of doors while the elevator was in motion.

Time to share the NYC model

In an ideal world, we would like to see all of America following the New York City example and adopting the same elevator door safety requirements. After all, the very same equipment is used in elevators across the entire country, and the risks and weaknesses are just as prevalent.

For building operators with a presence in New York City as well as other locations, this is a particularly important point. It’s not just about keeping your city elevators compliant, but maintaining the same safety standard across your entire portfolio. To avoid future liability due to door system failure, door lock monitoring systems should be installed in all locations under your management.

Solutions and equipment

Elevators installed before 2009 are unlikely to have the circuitry needed to comply with the new code and would need a full upgrade to their Door Lock system. More recent elevators however, typically have the necessary circuit setup and may only need a software upgrade. Several controller manufacturers already offer Door Lock Monitoring as an add-on solution when selling their systems – making it easy to adopt and install.

New York City has led the way on elevator door safety. When will the rest of the country follow?

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