Clear and Action-Focused

Clear and Action-Focused
Photo: Adobe Stock

A look at NEII’s past year and future plans.

Over the last two years, we have regained a sense of normalcy in our lives and work, and the National Elevator Industry, Inc. (NEII) has undergone a transformation as well. In 2021, NEII’s Board of Directors set a clear and action-focused five-year plan to advance key objectives that would progress our industry in meaningful ways. I am happy to report NEII has taken significant leaps forward on those goals and delivered clear results in 2022.

First and foremost, NEII needed to put the right staff in place to meet the goals that have been set for our association. Early in 2022, NEII welcomed three new staff members — Director of Safety Trent Behr and Directors of Government Affairs Savannah Clarkston and Billy Taylor — to our team. NEII’s team is filled with experts in their fields with decades of experience. And while we continue to operate as a fully remote workforce, our team functions collaboratively and efficiently, and we can be wherever we are needed to promote issues, address concerns, engage with jurisdictions and more. Please visit NEII’s website at neii.org to learn more about Trent, Savannah and Billy, as well as our more seasoned team members or if you are interested in reaching out to any member of the staff. 

Luckily, 2022 offered the opportunity for in-person events and meetings once again where we could introduce our new staff to our members and participate in industry activities face-to-face instead of through a Zoom meeting screen. In 2022, NEII held committee and board meetings in person, and the NEII team packed its bags to attend important industry events like the National Association of Elevator Contractors (NAEC) Convention, Tradeswomen Build Nations Conference, an Elevator Escalator Safety Foundation Board meeting, ASME code development meetings and many others. In addition, NEII took the opportunity to undertake site visits, speak at national and state forums and engage with policymakers across the country.

Safety, as always, is the top focus and foundation for all NEII goals. Work on code development committees formalizes innovations to keep industry employees and the riding public safe; an inclusive workforce is the best way to ensure safety on the jobsite; and cooperation with organizations that employ and support the employment of elevator technicians broadens safety at work for all construction employees. I am proud that NEII has embraced a holistic and collaborative approach to supporting safety in all our departments.

Our Safety Committee is always busy working to elevate workplace safety and decrease incidents and injuries. A major initiative of the Safety Committee is that NEII has been a part of the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration Elevator Industry Safety Partners (commonly referred to as the OSHA Alliance) since September 2019. The OSHA Alliance allows us to discuss key industry issues with the stakeholders involved in compliance and enforcement, labor and our trade association partners. In 2022, NEII staff and members participated in 50 hours of OSHA Alliance meetings to develop draft industry best practices, identify data needs, develop training modules and address other industry issues. Our goals include consistency in data and enforcement, industry reviews of guidance and proposals and increasing awareness of the root causes of industry incidents on the jobsite. 

Besides the OSHA Alliance, in 2022, NEII secured several code changes that were developed to address specific safety issues related to hoistway lighting, the size of pit ladders and sensors on pit ladders. We also laid the groundwork for a Hoistway Safety Initiative to educate all trades working on multi-story construction sites about staying safe from falls and injuries caused by falling items. NEII is finalizing the details of the Hoistway Safety Initiative, and it will launch formally in early 2023. 

NEII’s Board of Directors is very motivated to increase diversity in the building transportation industry’s workforce, and NEII has been very active is this area as well. Since 2020, NEII has reached out to more than 85 organizations representing diverse populations in areas where industry recruitments were being undertaken. In 2022, our team raised the bar by exploring ways to build a pipeline of new, diverse recruits for elevator constructor apprentices and supporting the retention of women and people of color on industry worksites. We engaged with two national organizations focused on working with teens interested in the trades and plan to formalize a robust partnership in which we can increase awareness about the building transportation industry and engage with interested students. NEII was also a partner for Construction Inclusion Week on October 17-21, 2022, and supported our tradeswomen in the field by participating in the national Tradeswomen Build Nations event in Las Vegas on October 28-30, 2022.

Since safe workplaces must be inclusive, I am proud that in 2022 our team merged the efforts of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion with safety to issue an inclusive personal protective equipment (PPE) challenge to the vertical transportation industry. All of NEII’s premier members confirmed that they offer inclusive sizes and styles of PPE, and we have challenged other companies to follow suit so that every employee can work safely and in comfort on every elevator worksite. Next year, NEII will widen the net and challenge all businesses in the construction trades to do the same.

Since 2020, NEII has reached out to more than 85 organizations representing diverse populations in areas where industry recruitments were being undertaken.

NEII has been a strong voice in the safety code development environment for decades, and in 2022 we had more than 60 representatives serve on more than 40 code development committees that evaluated more than 300 proposed code changes for potential impact. Among the many safety codes under review, our team of experts reviewed hundreds of proposals and submitted comments to improve the 2022 editions of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Safety Code for Elevators and Escalators A17.1/CSA B44 (A17.1-22), as well as the codes related to accessibility, electrical requirements, sprinklers, fire safety, building codes and international standards. Educating code development stakeholders and enforcement authorities on the benefits of new technologies is a large part of the process, and our safety code experts will remain highly involved to ensure safety codes reflect the innovations of our industry.

Additional 2022 NEII Statistics

  • Participated in two panel discussions at the NAEC Conference on safety topics
  • Addressed more than 45 issues with NYC’s Department of Buildings
  • Engaged on more than 150 safety code updates
  • Visited two company sites and held four safety training sessions
  • Conducted a State Inspector Compensation Comparison study

In other exciting NEII safety code news, we look forward to unveiling a new and improved CodeFinder database in 2023. Stay tuned for more details and a preview!

Finally, I would be remiss if I did not include information about the accomplishments of our government affairs and communications teams. NEII has relationships with policymakers across the country and was successful in 2022 related to the adoption of important industry legislation and regulatory advancements, as well as helping various jurisdictions and the industry navigate new requirements. Highlights include partnering with the Elevator Industry Work Preservation Fund on the adoption of legislation in Kansas to create an elevator program where one never existed, working with the state of New York and NYC to meet new industry licensing requirements for approximately 5,000 licensees, tracking more than 540 pieces of legislation and almost 200 regulatory actions in every state plus the District of Columbia and working with the State of Nevada to navigate implementation issues related to ASME Safety Code for Existing Elevators and Escalators A17.3, among many other specific opportunities and challenges in the policy arena. Our communications efforts have supported and strengthened all of NEII’s initiatives in the safety, code development and advocacy arenas along with increasing the visibility and public awareness of our industry and organization.

I am proud of our team and all we were able to accomplish in 2022, and I am confident that, together with our industry partners, this team will be able to collaborate, learn and grow to meet the challenges and opportunities that await us in 2023 and beyond. As we push upward to elevate the industry, I hope you will consider joining NEII’s efforts. Interact with our social media, subscribe to our newsletter and reach out if you have a question or idea for advancing the big goals we are achieving.


NEII Issues Inclusive PPE Challenge

In August, National Elevator Industry, Inc. (NEII) issued an inclusive personal protective equipment (PPE) challenge to the vertical-transportation industry as a part of the organization’s ongoing work to increase and celebrate diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). As part of its DEI work on behalf of the industry, NEII met with current and former mechanics who provided valuable feedback on their experiences as people of color and/or women in the field. During those sessions, NEII learned that some elevator companies were not offering PPE and uniforms that fit all genders and body types comfortably — raising both DEI and safety concerns. NEII decided that securing appropriate PPE for all field personnel is an important safety matter and a great place to start addressing DEI issues. About the challenge, Amy Blankebiller, NEII executive director, said: 

“Once NEII’s premier members confirmed the offering of inclusive sizes and styles of PPE so that every employee could work safely and in comfort, the organization issued an industry-wide challenge to encourage other companies that were not already offering inclusive PPE to follow suit. Our hope for this campaign is not only that people of all genders and sizes feel safe and comfortable on the worksite, but that they belong, as well.”

NEII Issues Inclusive PPE Challenge

Amy J. Blankenbiller is the executive director for the National Elevator Industry Inc.

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