Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, Council Housing and Buildings Committee Chair Erik Martin Dilan and Council Member James Vacca today announced the Committee on Housing and Buildings will meet on April 16 to discuss two pieces of legislation that will increase elevator safety in New York City.
The bills come in the aftermath of three elevator accidents in recent months that killed two people in Midtown and left a teenager injured in the Bronx.
On December 14, advertising executive Suzanne Hart was killed after an elevator lurched upward, trapping her between floors. Last week, an elevator plunged six stories when two ropes snapped, injuring a 17-year old passenger. An elevator mechanic was also fatally electrocuted last week while conducting maintenance inside the Manhattan building where he worked.
“Human error is not an excuse for loss of life,” said Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “If rigorous training requirements and better oversight of elevator maintenance workers will protect the City’s elevator riders, the Council will swiftly pass our Safe Elevator legislation to prevent tragedies like this from happening again.”
Maintenance mistakes were the cause of a circuit failure that pinned a woman inside an elevator shaft in December, killing her, according to an investigation conducted by the Department of Investigations and the Department of Buildings. During the course of the investigation, the City Council learned that elevator repair workers in New York City are not required to be licensed.
On April 16, the Council will hear testimony on a bill that would require elevator repair technicians to undergo licensing before performing repairs. The proposed bill would also add a national certification requirement to local tests that would be imposed by the Department of Buildings
“If plumbers and electricians are required to be licensed to work in New York, it stands to reason that elevator workers should be licensed as well,” said Council Member James Vacca of the Bronx. “The elevator represents a major threat to life and limb should it fail. In this city of high rises, we must ensure that only experienced, qualified professionals are repairing these essential features of urban life. That licensing has not happened to date is a major omission that we must rectify.”
“We should never have to think twice about our safety when walking into an elevator – a routine part of our daily lives,” said Council Member Peter F. Vallone Jr. “I commend my colleagues at the City Council for making elevator licensing a top priority to ensure the safety of New Yorkers.”
The Council will also hear testimony on proposed legislation sponsored by Council Member Dilan to increase safety standards in elevators by requiring elevators in residential and mixed buildings to be equipped with safety mechanisms to prevent elevator cars from striking the top of their hoistways in case of sudden acceleration.
“Deadly elevator accidents have unnecessarily taken lives of New Yorkers due to carelessness and lack of training,” said Council Member Erik Martin Dilan, Chair of the Committee on Housing and Buildings. “Our hearing will help us better understand how to make improvements in elevator maintenance and safety.”
The Committee on Housing and Buildings will meet on April 16th in the 16th Floor Committee Room at 250 Broadway to discuss the legislation.