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NEII’s 2021 Review

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A reflection on initiatives regarding COVID-19, government affairs, code inclusion and development of a five-year plan.

As we learned to live, work and move throughout the world amid the COVID-19 pandemic this year, our industry was able to advance some important initiatives. I came on as the executive director for the National Elevator Industry Inc. (NEII) on October 16, 2020, and, from my perspective, the most impactful changes have been a direct result of our industry’s collaboration, dedication to safety and NEII’s own reorganization and growing team of experts. I am extremely proud of the many accomplishments we secured for the industry. From where I sit, NEII is poised for innovation, identified efficiencies and improved outreach to our members and other industry stakeholders.

In 2021, NEII welcomed Vice President of Government Affairs Phil Grone and Director of Government Affairs Priscilla Magee, who joined NEII’s other director of government affairs, Chelsea Chaney, hired in late 2020. With a full team in the government affairs department, NEII was able to address more issues and better support our members, industry leaders and other stakeholders in the policy arena across North America.

A renewed direction has been forged at NEII, as well. Under the leadership of our board of directors, a very clear and action-focused five-year “LIFT” plan was adopted to take critical industry initiatives to the next level. Safety, as always, is at the top of that list, along with strengthening partnerships and bringing a more strategic approach to longtime NEII priorities, like codes.

From where I sit, NEII is poised for innovation, identified efficiencies and improved outreach to our members and other industry stakeholders.

For example, NEII played a critical role in securing the approval of several new code provisions related to safety for inclusion in the 2022 edition of the ASME A17.1 Safety Code for Elevators and Escalators. In addition to the three provisions approved for the 2022 edition of the code, NEII is working on several more that have been proposed and are under review within the ASME process for inclusion in future editions of the model code. All proposed updates to the model safety codes have been reviewed thoroughly by the experts serving on our Central Code and Field Employee Safety committees to maximize the safety of the riding public and industry technicians.

NEII also continued its efforts as part of the U.S. Department of Labor Elevator Industry Strategic Partners Alliance (i.e., OSHA Alliance) and will have signed a five-year extension to the agreement by the time this article goes to print. This public-private partnership brings key industry stakeholders and representatives from the U.S. Department of Labor together to tackle critical safety issues, focus on industry best practice, and develop training tools, all of which will improve safety for the entire building transportation industry.

Under the leadership of our board of directors, a very clear and action-focused five-year “LIFT” plan was adopted to take critical industry initiatives to the next level.

Another focus of LIFT is to address the issue of diversity, equity and inclusion within the elevator industry. With the guidance of our new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Working Group comprising our member companies’ labor, human resources and diversity team members, and in partnership with both the International Union of Elevator Constructors (IUEC) and the National Elevator Industry Education Program (NEIEP), NEII has been helping to raise the awareness of diverse populations to open recruitments in the building transportation industry through outreach to organizations and local schools to upcoming recruitments. NEII is also working to identify ways we can improve the retention of diverse workers, address industry challenges and provide critical information to folks in the industry and those thinking about joining.

NEII’s powerful and informative CodeFinder database was successfully moved to our updated website this year, as well. CodeFinder takes up some serious space on the internet as it tracks 11 codes related to the building transportation industry for every state and province, as well as several major cities. Not only does CodeFinder report which edition of each of those codes is adopted and enforced by jurisdiction – it also identifies all modifications made by a jurisdiction and provides links to the elevator program, key contacts and much more. This is an invaluable tool for equipment designers, sales teams and building code professionals who access the information regularly. Look for more enhancements and an important announcement about this vital resource soon.

Keeping our members apprised of emerging trends and requirements for working through the COVID-19 pandemic was a key focus of 2021, and it will continue as long as our industry is impacted. NEII’s team tracks federal actions, as well as state and local mandates, and posts weekly updates available to everyone on our website. With increased requirements related to vaccinations and testing from government agencies, as well as customers, NEII is committed to helping you determine how your business and workers might be impacted.

Looking back on my first full year as executive director of NEII, I am proud of our team and all we have been able to accomplish in such a short time. I am also proud to report that this NEII team successfully outwitted an escape room in a team-building exercise at our staff retreat in July, with more than 11 minutes to spare! With that in mind, 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 2022 and beyond.

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

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