Dutch Safety Awareness Week
In the Netherlands, more than 36% of people who become stuck in an elevator try to get out by themselves. Instead, Liftinstituut says keep calm and ride the Escapator.
by Dennis Lindeboom and Koos van Lindenberg
Approximately 47,000 Dutch people become entrapped in elevators every year. In 2014 alone, hundreds of people were stranded during a major power outage in the Amsterdam area. For Liftinstituut, elevator entrapment was a major focus during Safety Awareness Week, held on November 9-15, 2015. Spokesman Koos van Lindenberg says:
“The Dutch people generally know where to find the alarm button, but they aren’t aware of the danger of trying to get out by themselves. Liftinstituut recommends you stay calm, press the alarm button, wait for assistance and never try to free yourself.”
Some of Liftinstituut’s data is shocking. There is an average of 43 entrapment reports every day, which, coming to a total of 42.5 hr. per year, more than justifies the need for the Safety Awareness Week campaign. According to van Lindenberg and a study conducted by Motivaction, about one in four Dutch people have been stuck in an elevator before, and more than 36% of those entrapped try to get themselves out, which is life threatening.
“Several years ago, someone figured out how to get the door open and managed to squeeze out of the car, but he fell through the space below in the elevator shaft. He was severely injured,” van Lindenberg observes. Anyone, in freeing themselves from a lift, may lose their balance and fall down the shaft warns Liftinstituut. “There is only one option: never try to free yourself. Instead, stay calm and wait for the service department to come assist you.”
The campaign website, www.vastindelift.nl, explains how to deal with an elevator entrapment in Holland. The website also helps dispel myths surrounding elevator safety, and it shows a video with “fun things you can do when you are stuck in an elevator.” Psychologist Debby Romberg of TranQ says,
“Being entrapped in the elevator is the ultimate fear of people with elevator anxiety. Some people are afraid of a shortage of air. It is very good Liftinstituut indicates this will never happen, as well as the fact that it is unlikely for an elevator to fall downwards.”
The campaign was promoted during Safety Awareness Week through both social media and the local press. In addition, a large outdoor event helped spread the word. Van Lindenberg says,
“In the middle of the market square in Haarlem (on November 11th and 12th), we placed a 12-m elevator we call ‘The Escapator.’ Passers-by could experience what it felt like to be incarcerated in an elevator and learn the appropriate way to free themselves.”
Dutch TV host Jochem van Gelder decided to step in for a ride, and he also performed the official opening of Safety Awareness Week on November 11.
Liftinstituut organized a special seminar for the elevator industry on November 12 at the Haarlem Philharmonie. They discussed the effects and causes of lift constraints with all the major players in the market. According to a study conducted by Sjoerd van Kampen, those entrapments cost the Dutch society around EUR10 million (US$10.9 million) per year.
Liftinstituut aims to establish an action plan to reduce the number of lift entrapments every year. Van Lindenberg says, “Knowing what to do during an entrapment is important, but it is even better to prevent people from becoming trapped.” Prevention is better than a cure.
All in all, by Liftinstituut’s reckoning, Safety Awareness Week was a major success in the Netherlands. Press releases provided lots of attention both in the run-up to the campaign, as well as its aftermath. De Vries of Liftinstituut says,
“The Escapator has been constantly in use; many people have learned how to deal with the situation of being entrapped. Even entire school classes came along to teach the younger generation how to act in case of an entrapment.”
Van Lindenberg, chairman of the seminar, was very pleased with the number of participants. It exceeded expectations, he says:
“The seminar was very interactive; just what I was aiming for. The most important conclusion the industry came to was to focus on quality and not on price. This will not only result in the best elevator management [in the lifecycle of the elevator], it also leads to a considerable reduction in both entrapments and malfunctions.”
Next year, Liftinstituut will organize Safety Awareness Week for a third time. The theme is soon to be revealed. For more information on Liftinstituut, Safety Awareness Week or safety training for entrapped elevator passengers, visit our website www.liftinstituut.com or email us at email@example.com.