Elevator Accidents

Monthly Elevator Inspections Dropped In 2011, Sez Stringer

The number of elevator inspections conducted per month by the city Department of Buildings has dropped considerably, by at least 28 percent, according to Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer’s office

elevator Monthly Elevator Inspections Dropped In 2011, Sez Stringer

(Stock image courtesy of LTFexperts.com)

The average monthly inspections of elevators from September 2008 to June 2011 were 5,723, said Mr. Stringer’s office. That number is smaller when compared to the 7,930 average monthly inspections that occurred between January 2006 to September 2008. The peak number of average monthly inspections was 9,227 in April 2008.

“Getting into an elevator shouldn’t be an act of faith,” Mr. Stringer told the NY Post. “The Department of Buildings is not doing enough to guarantee the safety of New York elevators.”

DOB spokesman Tony Sclafani countered Mr. Stringer’ assertion by saying that the department “is conducting far more comprehensive inspections of… elevators than ever before.”

Elevator inspections have come under increased scrutiny since the grizzly death of Young & Rubicam executive Suzanne Hart, who was crushed after an elevator door prematurely closed on her leg in 285 Madison Avenue.

Last month, DOB and city Department of Investigation officials said that employees from Transel Elevator, Inc., the company hired to maintain the elevators, had failed to adhere to basic safety protocols while performing repairs to the elevator moments before Ms. Hart’s death.

The investigation’s findings included:

“•  Witness testimony and other evidence support the finding of a forensic examination that the safety circuit was bypassed on elevator 9, the one involved in the fatality, allowing the elevator to accelerate upwards with its doors open.

• Workers from Transel Elevator failed to follow basic safety procedures before the incident, such as placing caution tape across the elevator’s door jamb, and notifying DOB to inspect the elevators before putting them back in service, as required by the New York City Building Code.”

Both the DOB and the DOI have referred their findings to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.

There were 53 elevator accidents in 2010, and 43 elevator accidents in 2011, according to the Manhattan Borough President’s office.

drosen@observer.com