When thinking of a design for something, figuring out if the item poses a risk to both people and the environment is very important. Elevators are an important part of a lot of people's lives because they allow people to get to places faster and with little effort. They have a good amount of vulnerabilities but after decades of its existence, they have been able to mitigate the amount of vulnerabilities to it. Elevators are just large boxes that move vertically and driven my motors, or air. Since they weigh a lot, they depend on many things to keep them from falling or breaking. Traction elevators, which move by steel cables that are driven by an electric motor, have incorporated many things into them over time to become very safe. Elevators have sensors located throughout them to monitor speed and doors. In the event that something happens and a steel cable breaks, there are multiple cables to hold up the elevator. As well as that in most elevators, one cable can hold up the elevator so multiple cables are able to break. Engineers also have a system for when all the cables break. There is a braking system that will help slow down the elevator if it goes past a certain speed. But to go even further beyond even that, some elevators also have a shock absorber to help lessen the impact. Beyond these things there are some risks to elevators that are hard to mitigate. Since elevators are mostly electrical, it can cause the elevator to be stuck between floors trapping the people inside. Accidents on elevators are mostly when they are being renovated or under maintenance but the accidents that due happen are usually due to people walking into an open elevator shaft or getting clothes items stuck. Elevators have a few things to help assist people who are trapped in when an event like this happens. As for natural disasters, most would not affect an elevator significantly except for earthquakes. But most elevators are in tight enclosed spaces so there would be a small amount of vibration. For instance, they have some form of communication to call for help, and emergency lighting. Since elevators are a part of buildings, they have to follow building code standards. The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) has safety codes and standards for elevators on their website. These codes provide a guideline for what is needed to be on an elevator so that the risk associated with it, is the smallest it could be. If these guidelines are not followed, it can learn to a huge engineering disaster.
ASME A17.1-2016 is the most recent revision to these codes.