Schindler lift that killed woman not required to have safety system refit

Kyodo

Officials of the Japan arm of Swiss elevator maker Schindler Holding Ltd. apologized Friday to the family of a woman who was killed in an accident involving one of the company’s elevators in the hotel where she worked.

Michiaki Otsuki, representative director of Schindler Elevator K.K., and other executives visited the home of Toshiko Maeda, 63, a part-time cleaning woman at Apa Hotel Kanazawa-Ekimae in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, who was crushed to death Wednesday.

Maeda was entering the elevator at 2:50 p.m. when it starting going up with the doors still open, according to police. She had not yet touched any of the elevator buttons, they said.

Maeda’s son, Tomoyuki, 37, told reporters later that he never wants to meet Schindler officials again. The family barred them from attending the funeral.

Schindler had yet to determine the cause of the accident.

The police searched Schindler offices Thursday over the accident. They searched its Nagoya office and a maintenance firm in Kanazawa on suspicion of professional negligence.

The Ishikawa Prefectural Police and central and local government officials meanwhile conducted an inspection at the hotel.

Schindler began emergency checks Thursday on its 5,500 elevators around Japan. Local authorities will also inspect the elevators on behalf of the transport ministry, transport minister Yuichiro Hata said Friday.

Hata said his ministry would study more measures to encourage building operators to equip their elevators with safety systems.

On Wednesday, Apa Hotel said it did not equip the elevator with a fail-safe device that automatically stops the car if it starts moving before the door closes.

The Kanazawa Municipal Government said building operators have been required to equip new elevators with the fail-safe system after a legal revision in 2009.