A state audit found a severe backlog of elevator inspections, but the man now in charge of the program says the backlog of inspections should be erased by the end of the year.
The audit concluded that in 2010, there were nearly 10,000 elevators and escalators in Iowa which are, by law, to be inspected every year. Auditors randomly chose 100 elevators and found 68 hadn’t been inspected in the past year. One — at a grain elevator in Solon — hadn’t been inspected for almost nine-and-a-half years. Another elevator — at Sparboe Foods in Hampton — hadn’t been inspected for nearly nine years. An elevator in a Waterloo parking garage hadn’t been inspected for nearly three years, according to the audit.
Michael Mauro took over as the State Labor Commissioner early this year and he oversees the state’s elevator inspection program.
“We have elevator inspectors located across the state,” Mauro says. “And we also use private companies who are attempting to inspect all the elevators on a yearly basis and that’s our goal and we’re moving toward that goal.”
The state currently has 11 elevator inspectors and Mauro is in the process of hiring another. Mauro says the backlog of overdue elevator inspections should be erased by December.
“We feel comfortable about that,” Mauro says. “We’re putting more inspectors out on the street.”
The previous state labor commissioner began beefing up the number of state elevator inspectors shortly after adding the elevators in wind turbines to the list of conveyances which must be inspected annually. Mauro, the current labor commissioner, says it’s hard to accurately estimate how many wind turbines must be inspected.
“Some of them have elevators in them and the ones that have elevators fall within our jurisdiction,” Mauro says. “But it’s just hard to come up with a real number because wind farms seem to be getting real big in the state of Iowa.”
The state auditors also did spot checks last year to see if the elevator inspection certificates posted inside a few dozen elevators were current. Six elevators in the Lucas State Office Building had certificates suggesting the last inspections had been done in 2007, but a cross-check found all had been inspected in 2010 — the new certificates just hadn’t been properly posted. Elevators in the state’s two tallest office buildings had been inspected within the year, but the updated, state-issued certificates weren’t available for review.