Work to ensure safety of hydraulic elevators with single bottom cylinders continues

In December 2012, BCSA issued a safety order requiring that all hydraulic elevators installed below ground with a single bottom cylinder be modified to ensure user safety. The safety order required that the owners of these elevators complete a Safety Order Compliance Plan before February 1, 2014, and that the elevator be retrofitted by October 8, 2015. The lengthy compliance period was intended to give owners ample time to address any issues.  

Considered the industry standard prior to 1977, hydraulic single bottom cylinder elevators are problematic because the cylinders were installed directly into the ground, without any protection from corrosion. As the equipment ages, there is increased risk of corrosion that can lead to the release of hydraulic fluid and cause uncontrolled decent. There have been a number of fatalities and serious injuries across North America due to this issue, so the decision was made to make the repair mandatory in British Columbia.

The solution is replacement of the elevator cylinder, or installation of a piston gripper that can keep users safe in the event of a free fall. 

So far, 98% of the 1,300 single bottom cylinder elevators initially identified have been upgraded or removed from service. However, in January, BSCA warned 14 building owners in BC that they would receive a $15,000 fine and have their potentially unsafe elevators shut down if they did not comply with provincial safety requirements that have been in place since 2010. Immediate action was required or the elevator could be removed from service on or after March 14, 2016.

If more time was needed to complete the repair, owners needed to retain the services of a licensed elevating device contractor to submit a Request for Variance to allow more time for completion of the remediation work. If a variance and installation permit was issued, owners had up to April 30, 2016 to have their elevator upgraded, provided no imminent hazards were apparent.

To learn more about this issue, contact BC Safety Authority by email at or by phone at 1-866-566-7233.

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