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Swing-door dangers: the elevator industry's best kept secret

Swing-door elevators are not a new invention. They have been around for years. While once more common in the commercial realm, the use of these elevators in residential homes has recently grown in popularity. Whether it is to have a unique feature or based on need, a lot of homeowners now have these elevators.

What few of these swing-door elevator owners don’t know is that there is a very real danger lurking in these products. The elevator itself is concealed by what looks like and operates like a normal bedroom or bathroom door. The danger is found in the space between this door and the elevator, and it poses a particular risk to children.

A number of children have been seriously injured or even killed when they open the swing door, get in and then close it. The children become trapped in between the two doors, and when the elevator begins to move, the child can become crushed.

Almost three years to the day have gone by since one 3-year-old was crushed on Christmas Eve by one of these elevators. During the accident, the child’s brain was starved of oxygen, resulting in serious damage, leaving him unable to speak. The crushing injuries to his lower half made him a quadriplegic.

It was this injury that prompted the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to open an investigation into these elevators. According to the co-author of a manual on elevator safety developed for emergency responders, this unsafe aspect isn’t new. “They have a terrible history,” he said of this specific type of elevator.

The injuries that result from these unsafe products aren’t just a pinched finger; the damage alters the lives of the injured children forever. Those that suffer this or a similar type of injury in Honolulu, whether in a public building or a private space, may be eligible for compensation.

Source: The Modesto Bee, “‘Swing-door’ elevators blamed for child injuries,” Shawn Hubler, Dec. 18, 2013

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