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Case No.14

Falling along with the elevator cage resulting from a snapped cable on a cargo elevator

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[Circumstances of Incident]

The accident occurred in a warehouse adjacent to a plastics manufacturing plant.

This plant manufactures containers for cup noodles by using five plastic molding machines to form and process plastic sheets. A two-story warehouse adjacent to the plant is used for storing raw materials, products, product packaging materials, etc. A cargo elevator is installed to lift such things between the floors.

On the day of the accident, the victim and his co-worker had been using one plastic molding machine to form cup noodle containers from 8:00 to about 14:20, except for one hour taken for a lunch break. As the supply of plastic bags used to package these products was running short, the victim went to the warehouse to get some more. At about 14:30, he went up to the second floor of the warehouse and got into the elevator with a paper sack containing plastic bags (weight of 2 kg). Just as he was about to set the sack on the floor of the elevator cage, the cable to the motor driven hoisting winch suddenly snapped.

The cage fell to the elevator pit on the first floor about four meters below, and the victim was seriously injured with a broken left heel bone.

The following can be cited as the causes of this accident.

1 Because the elevator cage was not equipped with an emergency brake system, the victim fell along with the cage to the pit on the first floor about four meters below when the cable to the motor driven hoisting winch snapped.

2 The breaking of the cable was caused by the gradual cutting of wire strands due to abrasion as a result of repeated asymmetrical winding during winching, making it unable to withstand the load at the time the accident occurred. It is assumed that the cause of this asymmetrical winding was that the center of the gravity of the cage and the center of the hoist deviated somewhat and the guide rail was deformed. This appeared to be a characteristic of this elevator, and abrasion and asymmetrical cable winding during winching had been noted in past inspection records at this workplace.

3 Equipping elevator cages with emergency brake systems as a safety device is an essential component in elevator structural standards. Because such a system was not installed, however, the sudden descent of the cage could not be stopped when the accident happened.

4 The accident report noted that neither the manufacturer of the elevator nor the employer using the equipment was aware of these basic measures as stipulated by law, and therefore had neglected to ensure compliance with the requirements.
[Type of business] Other chemical industry
[Type of accident] Flying/falling objects
[Number of victims] One injury [requiring absence from work]