Ministry to raise priority of fixing elevators at housing units for elderly

Ministry eyes getting elevators at housing units for elderly operational as soon as possible after quakes

JIJI

The infrastructure ministry is considering requesting that in times of disaster, such as earthquakes, stalled elevators in housing units where many elderly people live be added to the priority list of those that need to be brought back online as quickly as possible, sources said.

The request comes after numerous elevators stopped operating as a result of a powerful earthquake that rocked northern parts of Osaka Prefecture and nearby areas in June.

Specifically, the ministry will call on the Japan Elevator Association to prioritize the restoration of elevators in housing units that serve many elderly. It will discuss details so that the association can review of the prioritization list by 2019, the sources said.

Currently, the first priority on the list calls for elevator technicians to rescue people trapped inside elevators.

Next, the technicians are to restart elevators at hospitals and care homes for the elderly, and at public office buildings where disaster response headquarters are located. Further down on the list are the restarting of elevators in condominium buildings that are 60 meters in height or more and finally in ordinary office or residential buildings.

After some 66,000 elevators stopped operating following the Osaka earthquake, the ministry realized there was a need to review the situation and consider the plight of people who find it difficult to use stairs, according to the sources.

In particular, the ministry hopes that elevators at rental housing units where there are elderly residents and where consultation and safety confirmation services are offered will be restarted ahead of other ordinary buildings, the sources said.

The ministry wants to have local governments’ construction divisions inform elevator companies of the locations of such housing units in advance.

It also plans to consider whether it is possible to make elevators at condominiums where wheelchair users live subject to prioritized restoration, according to the sources.