The death of a woman in Milan who fell down a lift shaft at the end of July has once again highlighted the precarious state of Italy's lifts. The death was the third of its kind in 16 months despite regulations introduced in 1999 that lifts must have routine checks every three months and special controls every two years.

According to figures published in Italy's main daily newspaper Corriere della Sera there are 750,000 lifts in Italy, more than in any other country in the world (in the United States there are 600,000), and the maintenance law has only been applied to the 50,000 new lifts that have been installed since the legislation came into force. 400,000 lifts in the country are more than 30 years old and at least 20,000 are completely illegal.