Throughout the state of New York, millions of residents routinely use elevators to get to and from their workplaces and residential dwellings. While most people who use elevators likely don't give much thought to their safety, if not properly inspected and maintained, elevators can malfunction which may result in those inside becoming trapped or worse.
Last month, we wrote a blog post discussing a fatal elevator accident that occurred at a Brooklyn apartment building in which a 37-year-old man was killed. We also discussed possible factors that may have contributed to the tragic accident including a defect in the elevator's brake system.
While it's not clear when the elevator in the fatal Brooklyn accident had last been inspected, it's also not clear whether or not an inspector would have discovered the deadly defect. That's because, shockingly, New York State does not require that individuals who are employed as elevator mechanics be educated, trained or licensed.
For an individual who works as an elevator mechanic, lack of proper training and licensure puts one at risk of suffering injury and death. As evidence of the dangers posed by this line of work, while attempting to make repairs to an elevator, last spring an untrained mechanic fell 24 floors to his death. Inadequate training and experience also puts members of the general public who use elevators at risk.
While New York City and mechanics unions require that elevator mechanics be trained and licensed, these requirements don't include those individuals who are employed in other New York cities or who are not union members.
Recently, elevator union members and safety advocates called upon the Department of Buildings to support legislation, known as the New York State Elevator Safety Bill that would "require mechanics and contractor to be trained before performing any work on elevators."
We'll continue to provide updates about this issue and related legislation. For New York City residents, commuters or tourists who are injured in an elevator accident; an attorney who handles personal injury and premise liability cases can assist.
Source: Gothamist, "Should NY Elevator Mechanics Be Licensed?," Eric Silver, Oct. 16, 2015