Key Safety Benefits of Senate Bill 673

Recent events prompted the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) to review Chapter 754 of the Health and Safety Code (the elevator law) and identify needed legislative changes. First, a deadly elevator accident in a San Antonio hotel required that TDLR evaluate how it could help prevent similar accidents from occurring in the future. Second, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) announced it is discontinuing its accreditation of organizations that certify Qualified Elevator Inspectors (QEI), which the state currently relies on as part of the elevator inspector registration requirement.

In light of these circumstances, TDLR needed enhanced capabilities to regulate Texas elevators, escalators, and related equipment, and the inspectors that inspect them. Senate Bill 673, authored by Senator John Carona of Dallas, meets many of these needs. The following are some of the changes to the law resulting from Senate Bill 673 that will greatly improve oversight and strengthen public safety. (The specific sections of the law are cited below.)

Key Safety Benefits for the Public

Effective September 1, 2013:

  • TDLR's Executive Director now has well-defined authority to seek injunctive relief or civil penalties, and issue emergency orders, including orders to disconnect power or lock out equipment when public safety is at risk; (Secs. 754.0233, 754.0234, and 754.0235)
  • TDLR staff have greater flexibility to perform inspections and investigations in cases where an imminent and significant danger exists; (Sec. 754.0231)
  • TDLR's Executive Director is no longer required to grant mandatory delays for compliance with safety standards, but may choose to grant a delay at his discretion; (Sec. 754.014)
  • The Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation (Commission) has enhanced rulemaking authority with regard to the availability of maintenance control manuals and other product-specific documents. Access to these documents is essential, so that inspectors and elevator personnel have all the information needed to completely and safely inspect or repair equipment. In the event of an accident, this information is useful for identifying and preventing continuing unsafe conditions; (Sec. 754.015)

Important Changes for Building Owners

Effective September 1, 2013

  • Building owners must report accidents involving equipment to TDLR within 24 hours, instead of the current 72 hours; (Sec. 754.019)
  • Certificates of compliance for all regulated equipment, not just elevators, must be placed in a publicly visible area of the building (as defined by Commission rule); (Sec. 754.016)

 Effective January 1, 2014:

  • Building owners must submit inspection reports and fees to TDLR within 30 days, instead of the current 60 days; (Sec. 754.019)

Important Changes for Elevator Inspectors

Effective September 1, 2013:

  • Due to the discontinuation of ASME's QEI Accreditation Program, the Commission will adopt rules to provide for the continuing certification of elevator inspectors; (Sec. 754.017)
  • Elevator inspectors must comply with annual continuing education requirements, ensuring they are up to date on changes in technology and new safety features; (Sec. 754.017)

Effective January 1, 2014:

  • Elevator Inspectors must now issue inspection reports to building owners within 5 days, instead of the current 10 days; (Sec. 754.016)

Commission and Advisory Board

Effective September 1, 2013:

  • The Commission now has the option to require electronic filing of inspection reports, fees, and other documents, which will accelerate the certification process; (Sec. 754.015)
  • Additional input from the Elevator Advisory Board to the Commission, to include advice on maintenance and testing of equipment. (Sec. 754.013)

Together, these improvements will increase public confidence that elevators, escalators and related equipment in Texas buildings and public spaces are operating safely for all who use them. For more information, visit the Elevators, Escalators and Related Equipment Safety and Licensing home page, or contact TDLR at (800) 803-9202 or cs.elevators.escalators@tdlr.texas.gov.