Elevator Safety: Why You Need ADA-Compliant Elevator Signs in Your Facility
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If you work in a building with multiple levels, you probably use elevators to get from one floor to the next. In that case, it’s important to not only inspect your elevators regularly but also ensure that you have ADA-compliant elevator signs hanging in the appropriate spots. Otherwise, you risk…
- Getting hit with fines for noncompliance
- Preventing some visitors from using your elevators
- Putting those in your building in potential danger
There are many things to know about the ADA signage required in and around elevators—more than you may realize. In fact, it’s not just federal guidelines you have to consider. Each state and municipality may have their own ADA elevator signage requirements too.
The good news is you don’t have to figure it all out on your own. We’re here to help!
That’s why we’re going to answer some common questions about this type of signage and show you why it’s so crucial to have ADA-compliant elevator signs in your building. But first, it’s worth taking a moment to address elevator safety in general—specifically, reviewing elevator usage statistics and learning how to prevent accidents.
What to Know about Elevator Usage and Maintenance
Below are some interesting facts about elevator usage that you may not be aware of…
- According to the most recent data, there are more than 1.03 million elevators in the U.S.
- Each elevator carries about 20,000 people per year.
- Elevators in the U.S. make roughly 20.6 billion passenger trips per year.
- On average, elevator users take 4 trips each day.
- Approximately 10,200 people are injured in elevator-related incidents each year.
As you can see, elevators are frequently used by people for the sake of convenience. Further, accidents due to poor maintenance aren’t uncommon. That’s why it’s vital that the elevators in your own building are routinely inspected and repaired as needed.
The following are just a few recommendations to improve elevator safety:
- Make sure that electrical circuits and mechanical equipment are turned off during maintenance.
- Provide fall protection when elevator work is being done.
- Block off elevators when they are out of service.
- Have an adequate maintenance and repair program in place.
- Use only qualified professionals for repair and maintenance.
Moreover, you should make sure your ADA elevator signs are in good condition and properly placed as an additional form of elevator safety.
Why Are ADA-Compliant Elevator Signs Important?
It’s true that signs don’t have a direct impact on elevator function. However, they do contribute to user safety and convenience. Installing the appropriate displays in and around elevators in your building is important for several reasons, including…
- Everyday usage – Having ADA-compliant elevator signs in your facility is critical for everyday usage. After all, there will probably be individuals with visual impairments who visit your building. Installing displays with braille and easily legible text ensures that they will be able to read and understand important information.
- Emergency – “In Case of Fire” signs are one of the most important types of elevator safety signs, as they direct visitors to an alternative means of exit in the event of a fire or other emergency. Without such displays, you risk visitors unknowingly taking the elevator when they shouldn’t or failing to locate the nearest stairwell. It’s important to remember that there isn’t much time for verbal communication when an emergency arises, so having easy-to-read signage in place is key.
- Compliance – If your building is open to the public, it must have elevators that follow ADA guidelines as well. This means, among many other things, that buttons inside the elevator should have braille indicating the floor number. Additionally, ADA-compliant elevator signs with braille and tactile characters identifying the floor number should be posted outside of each elevator. Some college campuses and other facilities are taking compliance a step further by installing elevator signs that encourage users to give priority to people with disabilities.
What Types of Facilities Should Have ADA-Compliant Elevator Signs?
Under the ADA, all facilities open to the public should make the necessary accommodations for individuals with disabilities. And this mandate includes signage. So, if your facility 1) regularly receives outside visitors and 2) has elevators to get from one floor to the next, you must have ADA-compliant elevator signs in place.
Here are some examples of facilities that typically meet these criteria and are therefore required to have the proper signage installed…
- Senior living facilities
- Shopping centers
- Government buildings
What Do ADA Elevator Signage Requirements Cover?
As mentioned earlier, there are many things to know about ADA-compliant elevator signage. And the rules may vary depending on where your facility is located. That said, here are some high-level ADA elevator signage requirements to keep in mind…
- Control Buttons – Inside the elevator is the control panel, which has buttons for floor selection, emergency communication, and general operation. Think about the last time you were in your building’s elevator. Did you notice if there was braille next to the number of each floor? Oftentimes these panels must be retrofitted with braille, but each button in an elevator should have braille. Additionally, there must be a minimum space of 3/16 inch between a number or icon and the braille underneath it.
- Door Jambs – On the elevator jamb, the requirement is that there be a sign with the floor designation on each side. The floor number must be tactile (raised) and be 2 inches tall with accompanying braille. If there is more than one elevator in your building, each elevator needs to be identified with a letter that is also required to be 2 inches tall and have corresponding braille. On the ground floor, a floor number sign marking the first level is required to have a star symbol that is 2 inches tall, the same as the number. The star needs to have braille beneath it with the translation “MAIN.”
- Exterior Identification – Outside of each elevator in your building, there must be an ADA-compliant elevator sign identifying it. This sign should have the proper font, finish, and corresponding braille. Further, if it’s handicap accessible, the sign should also feature the international symbol of accessibility.
- Emergency Information – When talking about ADA-compliant elevator signs, another type people refer to is “In Case of Fire” signs. Oftentimes these signs have a pictogram of a man running down the stairs with a red fire behind him. Given the role such signs play in elevator safety—they serve as a reminder for people not to use elevators during a fire—it’s important that they’re easy to read and understand. Displays with elevator-related emergency information should have a suitable font, approved pictogram, and corresponding braille.
To take a deeper dive, check out this guide from the U.S. Access Board.
What Are the Consequences of Not Having Elevator Signs in Your Building?
Failing to update your signs when they’re no longer legible or neglecting to install ADA signage altogether can result in several consequences for your organization.
For example, significant fines—as high as tens of thousands of dollars—can be charged to your organization if an inspection reveals that your facility doesn’t have ADA-compliant elevator signage or other necessary features.
Additionally, those with disabilities may have restricted access to your facility because of noncompliance issues. They could then seek legal counsel and file a lawsuit against your organization. In many cases, businesses have had to shut down completely after taking such a financial hit.
At the very least, your business could suffer bad PR if a disgruntled employee or inconvenienced visitor chooses to make their concerns known to the public. Your organization could then be seen as one that fails to create a welcoming, inclusive environment for all who work in and visit the building.
There are a lot of things to consider when it comes to elevator safety and ADA compliance. Although ADA-compliant elevator signs may seem like a minor feature, they play a key role. You should not only aim to keep your elevators in tip-top shape but also ensure you have the appropriate displays in place. Otherwise, there could be major consequences for your business’s reputation and financial health.
And given that “In Case of Fire” signs and other elevator signs can be purchased for a reasonable price from the right provider, it’s well worth the investment.
The next time you review the safety features within your building—including elevator function—be sure to double-check your signage to make sure it’s in good condition. And if your facility is currently lacking in ADA-compliant elevator signs, check out the elevator sign options we have available.