Campus, News

CSULB elevator permits expired

Students and faculty have raised concerns after finding out the safety permits in Long Beach State elevators are expired.

Under California State law, all elevators are required to have a valid and current permit issued by The Division of Occupational Safety and Health “posted conspicuously and securely in the elevator car.” This permit, usually valid for one year, certifies that the elevator has been inspected and found safe by Cal/OSHA.

The Daily Forty-Niner examined 15 elevators from upper campus to E. James Brotman Hall, and none had valid permits. 

After finding out that the elevators where she works in the University Library have expired permits, Julia Dowell, a first-year geography master’s student said she was concerned. 

“If I was really lazy I’d still take [the elevator],” she said regarding stopping using the elevators.

Similarly, philosophy department assistant professor Nicholas Laskowski, whose office is on the ninth floor of the McIntosh Building, said, “It does not make me more likely to take the stairs.”

But despite an overall lack of concern, not all students trust the elevators. 

“It’s frightening,” said fourth-year studio arts major Lucy Giles. Lucy added she doesn’t typically take the campus elevators and is “planning on avoiding them now.”

Not all the elevators on campus have a record of reliability, according to Ashley Boehne Ehlers, the production coordinator for the department of theater arts.

“We call it ‘the haunted elevator’ because it’s a little spooky,” Boehne Ehlers said, referring to the elevator in the theater arts building. “We have had students in the past stuck in it a couple times. A lot of our faculty avoid the elevator.”

Stephanie Torres, a fourth-year business management major and college of business senator, and Xan Balayan, a fourth-year aerospace engineering major and University Student Union Board of Trustees chair said they didn’t know much about the issue. 

When asked for remarks, both senators said they would “address it to [their] executive,” and declined further comment.

Neither ASI member knew that there was an issue with campus elevator permits, including the ones in their own building. 

Joshua Cichuniec, director of facilities management said that he and his team were aware of the expired elevator permits. He said that his understanding of the situation is that Cal/OSHA is backlogged due to construction in Long Beach.

“Inspection for annual permit renewal of elevators is done by the State of California Department of Industrial Relations,” Cichuniec said in an email. “They schedule and dispatch their inspectors – we do not control their schedule. We are aware permits have expired and have made them aware on several occasions.” 

According to Cichuniec, there is a full-time resident elevator technician assigned to CSULB who performs monthly inspections and responds to any emergency calls all hours.

 

In addition to the regularly scheduled maintenance, facilities management has also recently had the mechanical equipment and interior of elevators maintenanced in the McIntosh Humanities Building, Liberal Arts-5, Student Health Services, and psychology buildings.

“The frequency of elevator emergencies is low given our robust maintenance practices, but it happens,” Cichuniec said.

One such incident occurred in 2011 when a CSULB employee died after trying to exit an elevator car in the Foundation Building that stopped between the second and third floors. Reports of the accident indicated that the woman had attempted to escape before first responders had arrived.

Cichuniec said that if students become trapped in the elevators, they should exercise caution before making quick decisions. He said that the elevators are maintained often despite the lack of updated permits.

“We remind elevator occupants in an emergency is to remain calm, stay in the car, and follow the directions for making a call inside the elevator for assistance – it’s safe inside the elevator and help is always on its way,” Cichuniec said.

This article was update Oct. 7 at 12:44 p.m. to include the location of the 2011 elevator death. 

One Comment

  1. Avatar

    I would want to stress to readers of your article that inspections are a function of another state agency, not the university. That said, the university has both on-campus staff and outside specialized contractors who work to maintain and help ensure the safety of our elevators on an ongoing basis.

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