Over the last few years, there have been some shocking revelations about the NYC elevator industry. The New York City Comptroller issued an audit finding that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) fails to properly maintain its elevators and escalators, the State University of New York (SUNY) system fails to meet elevator maintenance and safety standards, and the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) has been found to have similar, but more severe elevator safety issues including critical injuries and fatalities of residents and workers.
Just last week three of the NYCHA’s top elevator division managers surrendered to authorities facing dozens of felony counts for lying and committing elevator inspection fraud. According to the DA, the three managers who helped oversee NYCHA’s 3,314 elevators, regularly filed false reports from 2014 – 2018 claiming lifts had been inspected when they weren’t. The trio allegedly continued filing false reports even after an 84-year-old man died in a faulty elevator in the Mill Brook Houses in the Bronx on Christmas Eve in 2015.
State Sen. John Bonacic believes the answer to these extensive and dangerous issues throughout the city and state rests in the hands of the New York State Legislature with the Elevator Safety Act. In 2012, Bonacic introduced a bill that would require anyone involved in the mechanics of elevators – such as designers, construction workers, operators and inspectors – to be licensed by the state labor commissioner. The Elevator Safety Act would mandate licensing and set minimum standards for training.
The bill was approved by the Senate Labor Committee and passed by the Assembly, but failed to advance in the Senate Finance Committee. Bonacic reintroduced the bill four more times, without any luck.
Earlier this year, Bonacic announced his retirement, but according to state Sen. Diane Savino, the push for elevator safety legislation will still be a legislative priority come January. Savino replaced Bonacic as sponsor of the bill when she reintroduced it in March 2017. When Democrats assume control of the Senate next year, the bill might make it to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s desk. Elevator contractors across New York State should be ready should this Act becomes a law.