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Given below is an interview with John Quackenbush, a consultant and advisor for the Elevator Industry Work Preservation Fund.

Quackenbush has over 45 years of experience in the elevator industry, and throughout his extensive career, he has served as a member of several professional organizations and committees that promote elevator safety and training. In this interview, he provides his views on “ANSI/ASSE A10.4-2004 Safety Requirements for Personnel Hoists and Employee Elevators—American National Standard for Construction and Demolition Operations” and on the impact of this standard. Quackenbush also describes his role in the standard’s preparation, execution and recognition.

Impact of A10.4-2004 on Elevator Safety

What role did you play in the preparation and execution of the A10.4 standard?

I have been a member of the A10.4 Committee since 2000, and I actively participated in the rewriting of the standard.

What kind of impact do you believe the A10.4 standard has had on elevator safety thus far?

I believe that the daily use of this standard has helped to prevent numerous accidents, and this is by far the standard’s best attribute. Since elevator manufacturers or the installing contractors are not present during elevator operation, inspection according to the A10.4 standard is critical. Periodic inspections and testing must be properly conducted so that the safety of the elevator is maintained.

It is impossible to create a standard that addresses all safety hazards, but if we review accidents and repetitive failures on an ongoing basis and stay abreast of new technology, we can continue to improve the A10.4 standard, which will make the industry safer and more economically viable.

How has this standard affected the Elevator Industry Work Preservation Fund?

This standard further encourages our organization to promote safety training within the elevator industry. States that have licensing requirements may require continuing education, and this standard can be most helpful for mechanics and inspector training.

Our mission is to ensure that standards like the A10.4 are practical, accepted and nationally recognized. Since public safety is a state right, the committee and the ASSE must make every effort to have each state adopt the most recent edition of this standard.

This standard is currently recognized at state and federal levels as well as within the public and private sector. What latest measures have you taken to ensure that state and federal governments recognize this standard? Have you encountered any challenges in doing this?

The Elevator Industry Work Preservation Fund and other organizations work hard on legislation and on the rules to implement legislation. This can be difficult because not all states want to pay for standards* or to adopt standards that others will have to purchase from a single source. Some states do not have the budget to buy standards, some do not adopt third-party consensus standards, and others simply refuse to reference standards. Each state is different, but we must continue to work within their system to accomplish our mission.

States that currently recognize the A10.4 standard include:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Massachusetts
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • Missouri
  • Nevada
  • North Carolina
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Vermont
  • Washington

However, states need to be made more aware of the benefits of long-term planning. The cost of standards is far less expensive than the cost of lawsuits and damages resulting from employee injuries and fatalities.

We also need more lobbyists to help with legislation at both state and federal levels.

Do you believe that the standard should be recognized in other areas?
Now that the A10.4 standard is available, I believe that it should be put into the hands of workers, installers and inspectors so that everyone is familiar with its set-up and provisions. This is a cost item for most individuals and a challenge for us to maximize the use of the standard.

I also believe that attention should be drawn to all elevator accidents and not just to the high-profile cases. Each year, approximately 17,000 people are injured and 30 are killed in elevator accidents, but many of these cases receive little public attention and often go unnoticed, especially those that involve minority workers and citizens. Additionally, insurance companies should be made aware that these standards prevent accidents, and therefore, save money as well as lives.

It can be challenging to address safety concerns in the current political climate when budgets and other hot-button issues seem to take precedence, but much can be accomplished if the Elevator Industry Work Preservation Fund and organizations like the American Society of Safety Engineers continue to support their state legislation.

*The current average cost of a safety standard is $37.00.

Biography

John Quackenbush graduated from the State University of New York at Canton with an associate applied science electrical degree. He entered the elevator industry on June 30, 1958 in Washington, DC (Local 10), and he started with Haughton Elevator. He has worked in the positions of helper, temporary mechanic, mechanic and mechanic-in-charge.

The high number of accidents and fatalities within Local 10 and the electrical shock Quackenbush himself suffered while working at the American Trucking Association in 1960 encouraged him to pursue a career in safety. He continued his education by completing a one-year Supervisor Construction Safety Training Program through the U.S. Department of Labor in 1962, and he participated in a thirteen-week Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) training program in 1974. Quackenbush was also selected to attend OSHA’s thirty-two week safety and health program.

Quackenbush represented the International Union of Elevator Constructors (IUEC) on the Building Trades Department Safety and Health Committee from 1975 to 1995. He worked for the IUEC as an organizer from 1991 to 1997, and he served as organizer and secretary-treasurer of the Washington Building Trades Council. He also served one term as a member of the Virginia Safety and Health Codes Commission in 1984.

He held several appointed and elected positions with Local 10 as well, including business representative and business manager. As a labor leader, he completed labor and safety courses at American University in Washington, DC, the University of Washington in Seattle and the George Meany Center in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Quackenbush served as a trustee and executive board member on the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Unions (AFL-CIO) Council in Washington, DC. He also served as an executive board member of the Virginia AFL-CIO.

He has edited numerous books and articles on safety and health, and he is a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), the A17 Committee on Maintenance, Repair and Replacement, Elevators Used for Construction and the A10 Committee on Construction Safety and the National Association of Vertical Transportation Professionals (NAVTP). He has also attended several safety seminars in Europe throughout his career.

Quackenbush has worked as a consultant and advisor for the Elevator Industry Work Preservation Fund since it began in 1998.