Régie du bâtiment du Québec

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This content in English is intended for individuals covered by the exceptions to the Charter of the French language and its regulations.

Celebrate the holiday season safely, and get the New Year off to a good start!

Elevators and escalators are designed and built in compliance with highly stringent standards of safety. Nevertheless, accidents still occur, the majority of which are caused by inadequate behaviour on the part of users.


Avoid extending an arm or leg to reopen the doors!

Most elevators are now equipped with sophisticated devices to reopen the doors by automatically detecting objects that obstruct closing. However, these devices do not eliminate completely the accident risks.

Indeed, some elevators are equipped with electromechanical devices, which, in the absence of physical contact between the contact bar and a person or an object, do not trigger the reopening of the doors. Such devices are more likely to cause accidents.

It should also be noted that an infrared door reopening device, which might be hampered by smoke or flames, must be rendered inoperative after 20 seconds when you stand in front of the detector. The mechanism will shut the doors again automatically, even if you attempt to prevent them from closing. The kinetic energy of the doors is, however, reduced when they close, to avoid the risk of injury.

Closing speed of cab doors

Since the time it takes for the doors to close is essential to the overall performance of elevators, designers must compromise between efficiency and safety.

To this end, the Safety Code for Elevators, Dumbwaiters, Escalators and Moving Walks prescribes a method of calculating and limiting kinetic energy, i.e. the relationship between the weight of the car doors and the hoistway doors and their speed.

As is true of any mechanical device, the adjustment of the maximum speed can sometimes be deficient, which increases the risk of being struck by the doors and falling.

To avoid the risk of injury and accidents, never use your arm or leg to prevent an elevator’s doors from closing; simply wait for the next car instead!

If you remain stuck!

Most people fear remaining stuck inside an elevator. Even if this situation actually happens quite rarely, it can be stressful, particularly for those who suffer from claustrophobia or an anxiety disorder.

  • Remain calm. You will not be deprived of air to breathe. Elevators, old and new, are naturally ventilated.
  • Try to push in another floor button; this might restart the elevator.
  • Use the telephone button or the alarm of the elevator to call for help. You may also use your cell phone, provided the signal is available, to call 911. If these safety devices are not operational, you might have to scream or strike the walls of the cab to alert of your presence. Do stop screaming or striking occasionally in order to listen for any answer to your call for help.
  • Remain away from the doors. Do not try to open the elevator doors or leave the cab by your own means. Your safety is at stake!
  • Wait calmly for help; you may engage in a breathing exercise. To alleviate the notion of time in such circumstances, try to keep your mind occupied, by reading for instance.
  • Accept help only from a person who is trained in safe evacuation techniques.

If you discover that someone is stuck inside an elevator:

  • Call the person in charge of security in the building, or dial 911.
  • Try to talk to the occupants of the elevator. Inform them that you have called for help.
  • Keep a calm attitude yourself, and advise the occupant to remain calm.
  • Remind the occupants not to try and leave the stuck elevator by themselves.
  • Do not try yourself to assist the occupants in escaping the elevator.
  • Remain on site until help arrives.


The next time you take an escalator, please observe these safety guidelines in order to reduce accident risks:

  • Hold firmly the handrail. If you loose your foothold, or if the escalator stops suddenly, holding the handrail will restrain you from falling down.
  • Keep facing in the direction of the ride, and do not touch the underside of the handrail.
  • Do not attempt to take the escalator against the direction of the ride.
  • Avoid carrying cumbersome objects which could block your view or could keep you from holding the handrail. Remember that escalators are designed to carry persons.
  • In a situation of emergency: use the emergency stop button at either end of the escalator, near the warning signs.

Do remain particularly watchful…

  • When young children accompany you. If they are too small to hold the handrail firmly, you must hold their hand. You must also see to it that they remain at a distance from the edge of the step and help them get off carefully at the end of the ride.
  • When you wear bifocal glasses.
  • If your movements are hampered or slowed down (difficulty in lifting your feet for instance).

Do not use the escalator…

  • When you need to move with crutches, with a walker (parapodium), in a wheelchair or with a stroller. These may cause accidents upon getting on or off the escalator. Take the elevator instead!
  • If it is not actually operating. This can make you dizzy and you may fall.
  • If you are barefoot or wearing tong sandals, flip-flops or Croc-type shoes.
  • If you wear ample and long clothes: these may get trapped between steps. Your clothes may get torn up, and moreover you risk falling down the steps and dragging others in your downfall.

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