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New Massachusetts Elevator Laws Worry Shop Owners

We have discussed the Americans with Disabilities Act before, a piece of legislation that requires that new buildings built after a certain time to have accessibility options for immobile or disabled persons. This can be in the form of stairlifts, elevators, wheelchair lifts and a plethora of other options, depending on the building size and type. Although this is a federal mandate, states reserve the right to add to this bill, sometimes making changes that can affect already existing buildings and habitants. That’s the case in Massachusetts, where many local business owners are concerned about a recent regulation change.

According to Go Local Worchester, a set of 2008 regulations would force business owners to upgrade their current elevator systems from wood-based to newer, safer alternatives:

“Mostly found in older buildings and used for freight elevators with human passengers, the wood-based shafts pose a safety risk because of the difficulty of detecting potentially hazardous levels of wear on the framework, such as stress fractures in the wood beams. The state issued waivers grandfathering in a number of such elevators in order to give business owners time to business owners time to update the equipment.”

The waivers given out to some businesses to delay the installations for time are expiring next July, the article says. Since the businesses have had almost 5 years to change the elevators, time isn’t the problem – it’s the price tag. The required changes can sometimes cost more than $100,000 to complete. Go Local Worchester says that lawmakers and business owners are looking for options, but won’t be able to act on them until January:

“That search is still on-going, and legislators are currently in the idea-gathering phase. In light of the high cost of the required upgrades and the sluggish economy, some of the options on the table include offering businesses zero-interest loans or delayed funding so that workplace safety can be ensured even if the cash to finance it is hard to come buy [sic].”

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