The Instigator
Con (against)
0 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
10 Points

The weight restriction in lifts are unnecessary

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/18/2012 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,565 times Debate No: 24335
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
Votes (2)




Hello Fellow Debators. I will argue against this arguement with whoever will accept this challenge. I am against this arguement.


Thanks for the debate, Alistair.


Lifts: non-American word for elevators

Weight restriction: the posted weight limit inside elevators

Necessary: according to the American Heritage Dictionary, necessary means "absolutely essential" or "needed to achieve a certain result." The result in this case is to prevent death or serious injury from the elevator free falling through the shaft due to excess weight.

If I can prove that posted weight limits fail to accomplish their goal and safety can (and must) be achieved through other means, I win.

==My case==

1) Weight restrictions fail

Weight restrictions are posted on a small sign INSIDE the elevator. The first problem is that if there are too many people inside the elevator, the sign becomes obscured. The second problem is that if you're reading the sign, you're already inside the elevator and it is too late to exit. If the car is overweight at that point, it is too late. Third, people don't pay attention to those signs, just like the "maximum capacity" signs in restaurants (which are supposed to protect you in the case of a fire evacuation), people simply glance at the sign and ignore it. This avoidance of the sign is further enhanced by the fact that people are too lazy to do the math. If there are 12 people in the elevator and the maximum capacity is 1700 pounds, it is very unlikely that someone is going to read the sign, guestimate everyone's weight, and decide whether or not to enter the elevator him/herself, all before the elevator doors close.

Since people 100% ignore these signs, they obviously serve no legitimate safety purpose. To avoid human error, we need to ensure that the elevator has enough safety features to prevent collapse.

2) Safety features

The first key safety feature is floor space. People will not lie on the ground and dog pile on top of each other. If an elevator has a low maximum capacity, the engineer can ensure that people will not exceed the weight limit by limiting the floor space so that only the correct number of people can fit inside the elevator. A second key safety feature is building redundancy into the elevator's carrying capacity. If the elevator can house 10 people, an engineer might make the elevator capable of carrying 10,000 lbs, which is well beyond what could fit inside the elevator. This is common practice. Schindler USA Elevator Corporation explains, "The steel cables are very strong, and can safely hold several times the weight of the elevator and its full load of passengers." [1] A third key safety feature is the governor, which prevents the elevator from moving if it accelerates at too fast a speed. [1] This means that if the elevator is too heavy and accelerates too quickly, the governor will kick in immediately. Furthermore, modern elevators have a weight sensor and beep if they are over capacity, the doors won't shut, and the elevator refuses to move. As Schindler explains, "Today's elevator systems incorporate a wide variety of features designed to help reduce the chances of accidents and give passengers a quick, dependable ride." [1] Multiple redundant safety features prevent accidents and correct for inevitable human error (with ignoring weight limits, for example). Computer chips in modern elevators make them extremely safe: "Any deviation can trigger the safeties in far less time than a purely mechanical reaction would require. In addition, all safety features are redundant, meaning they would all have to fail simultaneously before an elevator could fall." [2]

There are two types of elevators: cable and hydraulic. Because cable systems are built with a capacity many times above what can fit inside the car, there has not been a single death in a cable elevator car due to overcapacity. [3] All the elevator deaths are comprised of repairmen who fell, door malfunctions, or people falling down empty shafts. The second system is a hydraulic system. Because hydraulic systems have use pressurized liquids instead of cables (which can snap), there cannot be a catastrophic failure in a hydraulic system. Even if the elevator was over capacity, it would still merely glide slowly downwards due to the fluid remaining in the cylinder. [4] And this assumes that all the other safety features failed first. So since there are no cables that can snap, no one has or can die in a hydraulic elevator due to overcapacity.

Because people ignore the weight limits and because safety features do a better job, I urge you to affirm.

Debate Round No. 1


Thanks for replying so early for this debate. I'd just like to start by saying that weight restrictions in elevators (or lifts) are needed as without them you would have a serious safety concern. I agree with your definition of a lift (or elevator) and thank you for that but as far as your points go they fall down the more you look at them.

Firstly you said that the safety warning about weight is posted on the inside of an elevator. Yes, they are but this could easily be changed. If the problem with the signs is that they are posted on the inside of the lifts, then this could easily be changed. As a concerned citizen anyone could write to companies advising them on how to make their products better.

Next I'd like to point out that one of the main reasons that "people ignore these signs" is not because that the signs are not needed it is that for someone to enter an elevator they have to have somewhere to go. This in turn makes them concentrate more on things beside their immediate safety concerns. I have not said that the weight limit signs are perfect and they are far from this. If they could be larger and more noticeable it would benefit many people.

Now with the more technical side of this topic it's interesting to note that the first opposing argument only touched on the human side of this topic. Google defines and elevator as 'platform or compartment housed in a shaft for raising and lowering people or things to different floors or levels.'
Elevators are not just for people; they are for objects too. To give and example is a rushed chef sends 20 lobsters up or down a floor via a built in elevator, weight restrictions are extremely important. If too much food is sent at once the system may slow or collapse resulting in disaster. This isn't all about people it's about general welfare and making things as smooth as possible.

Lastly I'd like ask you, what do you think would happen if all elevators had no safety warnings? Just read this article and you will see what I mean.

So vote for Con and chose safety over what others think is best.




Thanks Alistair.

Here is my rebuttal to your points.


R1) Alistair argues: We could just write to elevator operators and ask them to post weight limits outside the elevator

This is non-responsive since weight limits are posted inside elevators now, and there has not been a single death from an elevator being over capacity. This proves that even if people don't read the sign, the other safety features work. My analysis about "maximum capacity" signs in restaurants also takes out this argument, since people would ignore the sign even if it were posted outside the elevator. Remember, when the elevator doors open, you only have a few seconds to decide whether you want to enter. Most people are too lazy or not good enough at math to guestimate the weights of the current 11 passengers and decide whether they are able to enter the elevator without it being over capacity.

In addition, I'm glad my opponent cites the Inside Higher Education article. This article mentions that college students cram into elevators, in spite of the weight restriction signs, because there is peer pressure. Another reason these signs fail. If there are 5 people waiting for an elevator, there is peer pressure to ignore the sign, if others do as well. In one famous psychological study, study participants were asked to wait in a hallway with two other "study participants" (who were actually paid actors who were in on it); the study administrators had smoke pumped into the hallway and the fake study participants ignored the smoke. In nearly all cases, the real study participants took their cues from the fake participants and ignored the smoke as well. This demonstrates that peer pressure is another reason people will ignore signs. Another reason is that people have a busy schedule and have places to be; people ignore posted speed limit signs for this reason. Lastly, it will be unclear in a social setting who should be the one to sit out. If there are 5 people and one person needs to wait, it is difficult to determine, in the 3 seconds when the elevator doors open, who should be the one to have to wait. For all these reasons, people will ignore signs no matter what. The article my opponent cites only further proves this point.

2) Industrial lifts

Firstly, industrial elevators are outside the scope of the topic. When we say "elevator" with no modifier, we are always referring to a passenger elevator. If we are referring to an industrial elevator, we always say the word industrial before "elevator." They are two entirely different, yet related, products. In the same way that normal glasses and industrial glasses ( are two different, yet related, products.

Second, industrial lifts are all hydraulic lifts. Hydraulic lifts cannot free fall. This means, as my opponent points out, the worst thing that could happen is that the industrial lift travels slower than normal. Engineers still limit floor space in industrial lifts, as well, to ensure that cargo will not exceed weight capacity. Lastly, heavy industrial lifts are typically used only by the owners, who will know what the weight limit is, without the need for signs.

To negate my opponent's example specifically: if a rushed chef sends 20 lobsters in an elevator, there is not an elevator in existence that would be over capacity from 20 lobsters. I want a real example of where someone was put at risk from an industrial elevator.

3) The Inside Higher Education article

First of all, my opponent makes no arguments from this article; he merely directs me to read it. The article mentions someone who died in an elevator from a door failure. The elevator was also over capacity, but the reason the guy died was because the door failed to close before the elevator started moving, so this guy got crushed between the elevator and the floor as he tried to enter. The elevator being overcapacity is not what killed him (the elevator cable did NOT snap). In addition, there was a posted weight limit in the elevator, meaning people ignored it, proving weight restriction signs fail. Lastly, the article mentions that the elevator in question was in dire need of maintenance, which is why the door mechanism failed. The guy would have died even if the elevator had been empty because he entered at the last minute, as the elevator was already starting to move, and the door did not close properly, preventing him from doing so. As I mentioned earlier, not a single death has occurred in an elevator due to over capacity. All the deaths were due to other malfunctions. This proves my point.

Please affirm. My opponent has merely proven that people completely ignore weight restrictions and as a result, we must rely completely on automatic safety features.
Debate Round No. 2


Alistair3900 forfeited this round.


Forfeit - vote pro
Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by Ore_Ele 6 years ago
Is this a particular topic that someone said something to provoke this kind of debate or something? This just seems like an odd topic to pull out yourself.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Maikuru 6 years ago
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Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: I assumed Con had a major advantage but Pro did well to demonstrate the futility of in-elevator signs, especially considering factors like peer pressure and excess floor space. The lack of fatal capacity-related deaths and the abundance of additional safety measures mean weight restrictions become redundant and unnecessary. Con's shift to freight elevators is outside the resolution and his forfeit concedes Pro's arguments.
Vote Placed by Contra 6 years ago
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: PRO had stronger arguments and rebutted successfully the possibility of any need of weight restrictions using several counter examples. CON also forfeited. Thus, PRO Wins.