Licensing Push After 2 Deaths from Elevators


Elevator technicians would have to be licensed to work in New York City under legislation proposed at a public hearing on Monday and written in response to two elevator deaths in Manhattan in the last four months.

Connect with NYTMetro

Metro Twitter Logo.

Follow us on Twitterand like us on Facebookfor news and conversation.

“Right now, my cousin Vinny could be inspecting an elevator in my building,” Peter F. Vallone Jr., the councilman from Astoria who co-sponsored the bill, said at the hearing. “We need to license people who work on equipment that literally holds your life.”

On Dec. 14, Suzanne Hart, a 41-year-old advertising executive, was crushed to death when the elevator in her office building lurched upward as she stepped in. An investigation by the Departments of Buildings and Investigation found that technicians failed to re-engage a safety device, which would have most likely prevented the car’s ascension, after they serviced the elevators that morning. On March 28, an elevator repairman, Ed Bradley, was fatally electrocuted while servicing an elevator.

A second piece of legislation would require that elevators in residential and mixed-use buildings be equipped with braking devices that would prevent speeding cars from hitting the top of the elevator shaft.

Elevator accidents are rare. Last year in the city, home to 60,000 elevators, there were 43 elevator accidents, compared with 105 in 2007, according to the Buildings Department. New York is among just 14 states that do not require that elevator technicians be licensed.

According to the International Union of Elevator Constructors, 25 percent fewer elevator accidents occur in states where licensing and mandatory inspections are required.

But Michael J. DiMattia, a lawyer who represents the Elevator Industries Association, a trade group, said the city’s proposed laws would give a false sense of security and would most likely have not prevented Ms. Hart’s death, as the mechanics who serviced the car that killed her were experienced enough to have carried a license.

“The city needs better oversight and better inspections,” he said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *