State elevator inspection standards going up

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The state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations continues to smooth out the process of keeping elevators safe and up to code.

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The state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations continues to smooth out the process of keeping elevators safe and up to code.

An online system for permit renewals and inspections is expected to be implemented by the end of the year. An online permitting system for new elevators became available in August 2013.

DLIR spokesman Bill Kunstman said in an email that the department was working with Hawaii Information System to train staff to use the system. Kunstman said the online system was in keeping with Gov. David Ige’s goal of increased efficiency through technology.

The move is the latest in a steady progression of tweaks to the existing system, which for years was underfunded and understaffed, leading to significant inspection backlogs.

Last year, 54 percent of the Big Island’s elevators received inspections, according to DLIR statistics.

In 2013, 79 percent of elevators were inspected. Current numbers were not available.

“We do not have current statistics at this time because we are in the midst of migrating the database and incorporating it into (the new system),” Kuntsman said.

In 2011, 78 percent of the state’s elevators had expired permits, prompting changes within the department.

Kuntsman said “the reduced uncertainty of applicable codes and the adoption of updated codes has led to significant increases in public safety and compliance with the codes and rules.”

In 2012, a special fund was created within the DLIR’s budget for elevator and boiler inspections to increase self-sufficiency. The number of state inspectors also was increased (there currently are 10).

Beginning in 2014, elevator permits were required to be posted inside the elevator itself.

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Permit and renewal inspection fees range from $140 for a dumbwaiter or material lift to $475 for an elevator in buildings with 40 or more floors. Elevators must be inspected once a year. Certain types of machines also require three-year or five-year safety tests in addition to the annual permits.

Email Ivy Ashe at iashe@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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