Large elevator maintenance companies Lysyk says that the TSSA lacks the appropriate enforcement powers to deal with big elevator companies. A small number of these companies dominate Ontario’s market and for years have been failing to maintain most of Ontario’s operating elevators in accordance with safety laws. The TSSA has tried with little result to have these large elevator maintenance companies perform required maintenance and safety tests. It has repeatedly prosecuted the same large maintenance company, resulting in guilty verdicts and fines over $1 million However, in 2018, 93% of the inspected elevators maintained by this company in regions related to the prosecutions failed to pass their latest TSSA inspection. Shockingly, five of these elevators are located in a Toronto hospital.
TSSA oversight In her annual report, Lysyk criticized the TSSA for poor oversight. It noted that most elevators and escalators in the province fail to comply with safety laws. The report stated, “We found cases where the TSSA has focused on areas where it can recover its costs even though its activities have little effect on public safety, and we found other areas in which the TSSA does not generate revenue from licensing fees and where it has done little to enforce public safety, even though risks to public safety exist.”
TSSA’s outdated computer system Lysyk also called out the TSSA’s outdated computer system. It “contains inconsistent and incomplete information about the safety status of devices and businesses that it regulates,” she wrote. “TSSA’s licensing system does not communicate with the system that captures inspection information,” she explained. “As a result, in 2018, the TSSA renewed the operating licences of over 300 elevators that at the same time were still shut down by the TSSA for being unsafe to operate.”
80% of elevators in Ontario failed inspections in 2018 In 2018, just over 80% of elevators failed their TSSA inspection, mostly because maintenance and safety work required by law was not done on time. Lysyk blames the agency for being ineffective in its enforcement of elevator safety. Her report says the small number of elevator maintenance companies that dominate the market are failing to get safety work done on time, but the TSSA is having little success in cracking down.
According to her report, the safety authority deems it impractical to shut down the operating licences of the large maintenance companies – ThyssenKrupp, Kone, Schindler and Delta – no matter how poor their track record, and equally difficult to take non-compliant elevators out of service.
“Shutting down elevators to enforce compliance is also not practical,” the report states. “Unless there is an immediate risk to public safety, it only affects the building’s tenants and ends up benefiting the maintenance companies, as they often charge owners a higher rate for performing emergency repairs to bring the elevators back into service.”
Who is to blame? The report found many building owners avoid taking on the big companies. Building owners also find it challenging to use smaller independent companies because of ironclad contracts and a requirement to use company-owned technology.
The elevator companies tend to blame building owners for being unwilling to spend money on maintenance and also cite a shortage of fully-trained technicians.
TSSA and Ministry of Government and Consumer Services response The TSSA said in response to the auditor’s report that it was developing a new “outcomes-based regulatory approach for effectively identifying risk, increasing compliance and promoting safety.”
For its part, the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, which is responsible for the safety authority, said it was looking to enhance its oversight processes to provide greater assurances that the TSSA is meeting its public safety mandate in the interests of the people of Ontario.
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