Safety

Elevator related accidents were quite numberous in the early years. Many of these accidents were due to lack of control of different components within the elevator system. Unfortunately many mishaps were also due to unqualified personnel attempting to repair these early elevators. Being unqualified and only knowing your trade in a halfway manner could be, and was indeed very risky.

Elevator constructors needed to be accepted as a separate trade, not as semi-electricians or semi-mechanics, but a trade standing on its own merits.
In 1935 agreement was reached between the employers and HMF hereby forging the rules for future elevator workers. The apprenticeship was to be of a five year duration, after five years the examination would consist of building an elevator from "scratch" to completion. Today this has been slightly modified to a period of four and half years. In 1964 elevator constructors were given exclusive rights to all work pertaining to elevators, these rights were strengthened in 1974 after a ten-week strike concerning wage negotiations.

In 1993 these exclusive rights were infringed upon, resulting in a weakening of safety standards within the elevator industry as well as in the electrical trade. Lesser qualified personnel are today given the right to maintain and repair elevators, a perilous step backward....

Safety control of elevators was first established in Oslo in 1896 with few definite guidelines, better safety guidelines were established in Oslo in 1946. Among other things, only fully qualified personnel were given the right to test the safety devices on an elevator. Cities and towns in the rest of the country were far behind in this work since no directives were in force nationwide. The right-wing government tried in 1985 to put the control of elevators under the wings of the elevator companies, this would result in the companies checking their own work, hardly a good policy. The position of HMF was and is also today clear on this point: the personnel checking the safety of elevators must be completely detached from any and all elevator construction companies and must in no way be dependent of them.

A boycott lasting several months against maintenance and repair of all elevators in government buildings was established. The only exceptions given were hospitals and old-age homes. The pressure asserted by HMF resulted in nationwide guidelines on safety control of elevators, safety became priority number one. Safety control was established throughout the country in both large and small cities. The NHK (Norwegian elevator control) was thus established, an independent private institution dedicated to the safety of the general public. All elevators in Norway are checked every other year with safety in mind, all owners of elevators are complied by law to have periodical maintenance by a certified elevator company: a victory indeed, not only for HMF but above all for the safety of the general public.

January 7th 1998, John Walderhaug. Translated by Ove Oslund