AN INVESTIGATION ON ELEVATOR MAINTENANCE OPERATIONS AND SAFETY PRACTICES

ABSTRACT Elevators are a major part of today‘s urban society which has seen a steady rise in the number of tall buildings over the last few years that require vertical transportation of people and goods within them. This research seeks to assess the maintenance practices and safety operations applied to elevators in buildings within Nairobi, specifically around the CBD and Upperhill areas. The study looks at how maintenance managers carry out elevator maintenance in their buildings and at what intervals; the challenges they are faced with in carrying out the maintenance; new technologies coming up in the elevator industry and their impact on maintenance; and finally how building managements communicate with and educate their tenants on safety issues relating to operating lifts in their buildings.  
The main ideas in the conceptual framework upon which the study was based unfold in the literature review which looks at the history of lifts, various types of lifts, lift malfunctions, lift maintenance, the need for maintenance in lifts, regulations guiding maintenance of lifts, new technologies in the elevator industry and finally culminates in a review of previous research projects.  
The study conducted a field survey whereby simple random sampling was used to select sample buildings within Nairobi CBD and Upperhill areas. Maintenance managers and occupants from the sample buildings along with sample lift companies were interviewed or provided with questionnaires to obtain the necessary data for the research. The data was then analyzed using tables and charts obtained from MS Word and MS Excel software. Findings were then deduced from the analyzed data.  
The study findings included: most of the buildings in Nairobi carry out elevator maintenance on a monthly basis with the rest doing it quarterly and bi-monthly; there were various challenges listed that faced maintenance managers and lift companies when undertaking elevator maintenance but the most common challenge faced is difficulty in obtaining spare parts especially for the older lifts; various technologies have been incorporated in elevators within buildings within Nairobi and most of these technologies have made maintenance easier as they have made elevators more efficient; and finally most building managements in Nairobi did not educate their occupants on elevator operation as they found it relatively easy and thus saw no need to.  
Conclusions were made based on the findings including: Maintenance of lifts in Nairobi was carried out by contracted lift companies on a long-term basis; Contractor performance was not up to standard since all the buildings surveyed carried out maintenance of their elevators yet most of the occupants who participated in the study were not satisfied with the performance of the lifts in their buildings; and supervision by non-qualified individuals was the probable cause of poor contractor performance.  
The recommendations of the study include: building owners or management should consider having in-house maintenance technicians or a knowledgeable person to supervise contracted maintenance personnel; formation of a central database for all registered lift companies to share information on maintenance that may provide information on the most often replaced lift parts and help local suppliers make informed decisions on which parts keep large stocks of; and also increasing preventive maintenance beyond that recommended by lift regulations