Most people don’t think twice before stepping into an elevator. However, a recent report released by New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s office conjures nightmare scenarios for those who rely on elevators on a daily basis. The audit, released on June 6, cited some troubling findings regarding NYC elevator inspections by the city’s Department of Buildings. According to the report, “private elevator inspectors in New York City are missing hazardous violations and allowing unsafe conditions to go unrepaired.”
The audit was based on an examination of 12 elevators in nine buildings throughout the five boroughs as a sample. It underlines the fact that NYC has over 71,000 elevators yet there are only 48 staff inspectors at the DOB. As a result, the DOB contracts private companies to conduct the annual elevator inspections.
The audit looked at work carried out by some of the companies contracted by the DOB to perform NYC elevator inspections. The findings were alarming.
- Two non-DOB elevator inspectors had signed elevator inspection certificates for 15 elevators in 14 buildings before the inspections were under way.
- Three non-DOB inspectors did not identify broken door restrictors, which are devices that prevent elevator doors from opening between floors. Such a problem with the restrictors would require the elevator to be taken out of service until that issue was fixed.
- The inspectors found hoist cables showing signs of rouging, which are abrasions that cause wearing on the cables. At one building, a non-DOB inspector missed the rouging, while at another building, a non-DOB inspector noticed rouging but didn’t have the proper tool to determine how serious the problem was.
- private inspectors did not inspect the top of elevator cars or the elevator pits at four of the nine sampled buildings (standards set by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers requires this to be done).
- There were violations overlooked in 11 of the 12 elevators in the sample.
- In 2015, 13 percent of the 62,166 elevator inspections were not performed by non-DOB inspectors.
- In 2016, 11 percent (6,741) annual elevator inspections that the DOB required to be completed by contracted inspectors were not complete. Even in some of the inspections that were completed, violations that should have resulted in an elevator being taken out of service were overlooked.
- In 2016, 11 percent of the 63,314 elevator inspections were not conducted by non-DOB inspectors.
DiNapoli spoke to the press about the findings: “In a vertical city, with tens of thousands of elevators carrying millions of people, it is unacceptable that New Yorkers should have to worry about false inspections or hazardous conditions. Even in a limited group of inspections, we found nearly every one missed violations that could pose risks to safety. While the Department of Buildings deserves credit for taking steps to address the concerns and recommendations we’ve made in our audit report, the agency needs to ensure that all inspections are complete and thorough so that New Yorkers can feel confident that the elevators they ride in are safe.”
DiNapoli’s made nine recommendations to improve the inspection process. Some of the recommendations are as follows:
- Remind elevator inspection companies to follow the proper guidelines in the inspections and to identify those elevators that need to be taken out of service.
- Non-DOB inspectors need to follow the department’s rules when conducting the inspections.
- DOB needs to communicate with building owners about imminent inspections.
- The use of stiffer actions, such as fines, to penalize building owners when inspections are not conducted.
According to the comptroller’s office, the DOB agreed with eight of the nine recommendations from the report. In a statement quoted by The Real Deal, DOB Commissioner Rick Chandler said: “New York’s elevators are one of our safest forms of transportation – and DOB’s strong elevator regulations are a key reason why. That said, we take the Comptroller’s input seriously and have already taken steps to address many of these recommendations.”
Inaccurate inspection reports and missed violations mean unsafe conditions go unrepaired. These elevators are unsafe for the public as well as the elevator maintenance workers. FIELDBOSS Lift can help your company manage and track inspections and violations with Violation Management, a unique feature that is configurable for New York City (NYC) as well as other jurisdictions.
With Violation Management, users can:
- Simplify the violation management process into actionable steps.
- Create open violations and defects on a specific elevator while managing critical dates, defect responsibility and monitoring the remediation to completion.
- Create a Quote for customer approval or a Work Order for contractor work.
- Manage the scheduling and purchasing needs of a violation repair.
- Provide the mechanics with all the information required to resolve the violation on their mobile device.
- Automatically invoice the work order once the work is completed.