Friday, March 24, 2017

The crushing death of Robert Myers, a 60-year-old employee of Otis Elevator, killed doing maintenance on an elevator at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare has been ruled an industrial accident

The death of a contract worker killed doing maintenance on an elevator at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare has been ruled an industrial accident, according to police reports.

Robert Myers, a 60-year-old employee of Otis Elevator, tagged out the elevator, which is supposed to make it inoperable, by pushing the emergency stop button located inside the elevator shaft, according to a Tallahassee Police Department report finalized Feb. 28.

An Otis employee confirmed with TPD investigators that the emergency stop button had been pushed and did not appear to be "manipulated." TPD is not responsible for determining mechanical or occupational fault.

Myers died the morning of Feb. 17, while conducting routine maintenance. He started working on the elevator at 4:59 a.m. He was last seen on the hospital’s surveillance cameras at 5:16 a.m.

Prior to that, he was filmed entering and exiting the shaft of elevator 17, located in TMH’s Professional Office Building. His flashlight's beam could be seen as he worked.

An hour later, a family of three using the same elevator called TMH staff to report they were stuck between the first and ground floors. They reported hearing a loud knock and grinding noise as the car came to a stop.

A TMH security staff member tried repeatedly to reach Myers, but the calls went to his voicemail.

After security staff noticed blood on the outer doors, in the elevator shaft and its threshold, the Tallahassee Fire Department was called and a search and rescue operation began.

Myers was found trapped between the elevator car and a ladder on a wall inside the shaft.

“Due to the movement of the elevator between 5:16 a.m. and when it became stuck at 5:59 a.m., it is unknown how many times the elevator came upon Myers or the exact time he was injured,” the report notes.

Otis Elevator officials expressed condolences for the loss of their long-time employee.

"Our deepest sympathies remain with the family of Bob Myers, a valued and respected Otis employee who was involved in a fatal incident at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital," wrote Jodi Hynes, communications manager. "Bob had worked in the industry since 1999. Otis was fortunate to have him on our team, and he is greatly missed by his friends and colleagues."

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration opened an investigation upon Myers' death.

OSHA fined Otis in November 2015 after a worker was killed working in an elevator shaft earlier that year in Syracuse, New York. OSHA noted the worker, Christopher Hamelick, was not provided the proper training and flagged as a serious violation a company policy allowing employees to enter the hoist shaft for up to 15 minutes without shutting off power to the elevator.