Home » German Labor Ministry Backtracks on Paternoster Elevator Restrictions
A crackdown on Germany’s controversial vintage elevators has spurred a grassroots resistance movement to save them and it seems that the people have already won. The German Labor Ministry’s proposal that only trained personnels can use the country’s old-fashioned jump-on-jump-off elevators called “Paternosters” has been derided.
The rule made it mandatory for all paternoster passengers to pass a training program before boarding the device. Serious concerns about passenger safety had forced the German Labor Ministry to impose this important restriction on the use of these elevators.
Paternosters are chain elevators with open compartments that move continuously in a loop. The lift cabins, only large enough to hold one or two people at a time, have no doors and hence do not stop in between floors. They move up and down through the building shaft in a continuous loop and every second another cabin comes to each floor. Passengers can simply step into the moving lift in the direction they want to go and step out when they reach their destination. It’s obvious that failing to step off in time can cause accidents, though there have been few lethal accidents. Moreover, light sensors have been added which shut down the system if anything is wrong, or outside the frame of the box.
The new rule drew widespread public criticism from people all over Germany. Many people feared that this could effectively mark the end of the country’s Paternoster era. In addition, it was feared that many buildings that use paternosters and are visited by tourists would become redundant as they wouldn’t be permitted to use them. Also, the new rule required most buildings to post guards on each floors to check or make sure that no untrained person was stepping onto the conveyances.
Finally, bowing to public pressure the German Labor Ministry recently announced it would allow paternosters to remain in service, as long as signs are posted to warn of their dangers.
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