City Council Holds First Elevator Safety Hearing in Almost a Decade
On behalf of Jeff Antin of Antin, Ehrlich & Epstein, LLP, Attorneys at Law posted in Accidents on Friday, September 7, 2012.
Two elevator-related deaths in the past 5 months prompted the New York City Council to hold an oversight hearing on elevator safety – the first since 2003 – and the response couldn’t have been stronger: New York City residents packed the hearing room and the overflow room in order to participate. The jarring wrongful deaths of Suzanne Hart and Ed Bradley in fatal elevator accidents has alarmed many of the people who rely on New York City’s 60,000 elevators, and the two new elevator safety bills proposed by the council are attracting much more attention than they would have under normal circumstances.
One of the bills proposed by the council would require companies to add more safety devices to existing elevators, while the other would require elevator workers to be licensed. “We require licensing of our plumbers. We require licensing of our electricians. And the lack of elevator licensing is a major loophole,” said councilmember James Vacca, a sponsor of the licensing bill, during the hearing. “It is also a threat to the safety of millions of New Yorkers.” While both cases seem to involve negligence, labor law violations, and premise liability, it’s clear that they were caused primarily by lack of oversight.
Both accidents were tragic and unnecessary. Suzanne Hart, a 41-year-old advertising executive, was killed on December 14, 2011 when an elevator she was boarding in her Midtown Manhattan office building suddenly rose upward and pinned her between the elevator car and the floor. It was revealed shortly afterward that elevator workers had disabled the safety features that prevent this from happening without informing anyone about their actions. The other fatal accident was a work-related accident. Ed Bradley, a 45-year-old elevator mechanic, was electrocuted on March 21 of this year while working on an elevator in Manhattan.
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