The death of a Williamsburg resident in a damaged elevator earlier this month has raised a lot of questions about various aspects of elevator use in New York City. The biggest concern was voiced by Michael Halpin, who is the Elevator Contractors Local Union representative, when he spoke recently at a community board meeting.
Halpin is calling for stricter regulations in the industry. Currently, he stated that New York State is one of only a few states that do not require elevator repair mechanics to be trained and licensed. This means anyone can take on the role.
P&W Elevator was the contractor responsible for maintaining the elevators in use at the Espoir, Hope St. building where the recent fatality took place. It also maintains elevators in Frame Place in Flushing where in August 2014 another elevator death took place.
Some of P&W’s former workers have reported that P&W allegedly never offered employees formal education and training in the elevator maintenance business.
So far, the Department of Buildings has blamed a potential defect in the type of elevator on the death at the Espoir. They point to the fact that a second elevator in the same building failed the 125 percent overcapacity loading test.
Last May, an Air Force veteran, Christian Ginesi, dropped 24 stories down an elevator shaft in an incompletely built luxury hotel. He had been working on the elevator as a mechanic, but had no formal elevator maintenance training.
For contractors who are part of the union, every now and again elevator mechanic apprenticeship becomes available. The number of those who apply for apprenticeships far exceeds the number of apprenticeships that are available.
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Any elevator mechanic who works for the City must have no less than 5 years of work experience and gain at least 70 percent or more in a multiple-choice test. The higher the score, the better the chance is of being offered a job. They also have to pass New York State driver’s license checks, drug screenings, English language requirement and residency requirements before being accepted for a job.
It seems that private elevator companies, by contrast, do not set these sorts of standards for their own elevator employees, which might explain why there is a spate of elevator accidents every so often.
The New York State Elevator Safety Bill is yet to be passed, but if and when it does, it will mean all elevator mechanics and contractors will have to undergo training before undertaking elevator maintenance in any building.
The Department of Buildings has said that City law sets a requirement that elevator agency directors have to be licensed and meet specific qualifications. These individuals manage the work of their mechanics so, in reality, they are responsible for their training.
If you or a member of your family are involved in an elevator accident in New York and become seriously injured, you may have grounds to file a personal injury claim against the elevator company responsible for maintenance work.
This entitlement means any financial hardship you have encountered – such as loss of income while recovering from the accident, the cost of medical treatment and even an amount for pain and suffering – may be recovered. You will however need an experienced New York and Long Island personal injury attorney such as Richard S. Jaffe Esq. to assess and win a compensation claim on your behalf.
You can contact him at the Law Offices of Cohen & Jaffe LLP, 2001 Marcus Avenue, Suite W295, Lake Success, NY 11042. Phone: 516-358-6900 or toll free: 800-483-6149.