New York State has raised its standards for elevator mechanics, reports The Real Deal. The state will now sync up with the standards required by many other states in a good portion of the country. Currently, not including New York, 36 states and the District of Columbia require licensing of elevator mechanics.
The Elevator Safety Act, signed into law by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, requires anyone who designs, builds, inspects, maintains and/or repairs elevators to be licensed by the state. The measure has been waiting for approval by the Governor since the Assembly approved the bill in June 2019.
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Up until now, any similar legislation introduced faced opposition from various interest groups. Recent safety concerns and the current political environment have finally created circumstances allowing the bill to gain traction.
“There is no doubt that this legislation will help prevent serious injury and loss of life for elevator installers and repair personnel and users alike,” Assembly member Marcos Crespo, one of the bill’s sponsors, said in a statement.
The new law will require workers with at least four years experience to obtain licenses through a written test on national, state, and local codes. Another way to obtain the license is to complete a union apprenticeship or other approved training program.
Note: these requirements will not activate until January 2022. This is part of a compromise that lawmakers made with Governor Cuomo.
This legislation comes on the heels of some alarming media reports about elevator safety (or lack of it). The Real Deal reported in January 2019 that elevator-related injuries and fatalities coincided with lapses in enforcement of city safety standards. Another red flag: inconsistency in training of elevator contractors.
The NYC Department of Buildings reported that between 2010 and 2018, at least 22 people were killed in passenger elevators or shafts in the city. Stats like this have further emphasized the importance of prioritizing elevator safety.
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Michael Halpin, of the International Union of Elevator Constructors, Local 1, told The Real Deal, ““We’re glad that New York state [and] the governor took this very important first step.”
Horrifically, recent gruesome elevator-related death in Manhattan also inspired new interest in the legislation. This serves as a wake up call to all of us: we can and should do more to help ensure that something like this never happens again.
In addition to the requirements mentioned above, the law creates a nine-person Elevator Safety and Standards Board, which will oversee and enforce the training requirements and will issue recommendations for inspection and enforcement. Additionally, The Department of Buildings must maintain an updated list of licensed mechanics, contractors and inspectors (the list will be made available on the agency’s website).
Elevator safety concerns aren’t limited to New York: TV station WFAA expressed concerns about elevator safety in Texas. Read more about it in our blog post here.
In a recent statement, Governor Cuomo said, “For too long, unsafe and defective elevators have led to unnecessary injuries and even deaths, and this new law will help ensure all individuals working with elevators have the proper training and credentials to make sure these machines meet the safety standards necessary to provide reliable service.”
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