The number of elevators operating on expired certificates in Maryland is growing monthly due to recent legislation, a workforce shortage and increasing lead times for inspections.
Officials from the Maryland Department of Labor Licensing
and Regulation outlined the problem during a recent legislative briefing.
The backlogs are due to legislation passed in the 2018
session of the Maryland General Assembly. That legislation called for phasing in
new testing protocols that require an elevator inspector be physically present
while mechanical crews perform the annual maintenance and test on each elevator.
This procedure, known as “witnessing,”requires about four to six hours
to complete. Prior to passage of the
bill, inspectors “verified” test results during a site visit that required
about two hours and could be independently scheduled.
Between February 2018 and October 2019, the number of
publicly owned elevators with expired annual inspection certificates increased an
average of 25 per month. In October 2019, when the phase-in of the new “witnessing”
inspection procedures was applied, 139 public elevators failed to receive a
timely annual test and inspection. If that pace continues, 70 percent of
publicly owned elevators in Maryland will become overdue for inspection within
one year and there will be little prospect of catching up.
In October 2020, the “witnessing” law is scheduled to apply
to 17,000 privately owned elevators. The state estimates the added workload will
require up to 34 new full-time inspectors or 68 part-time inspectors. Because
it takes five years or more to become a third-party elevator inspector, there
is no realistic expectation the number of inspectors will increase sufficiently
in time to meet the deadline.
Work is underway in the 2020 session of the General Assembly
to delay the private elevator phase-in.