April 9, 2016
By Joe Maniscalco
Brooklyn, NY – Advocates for elevator safety training and licensing renewed calls for industry reform this week — six months after a failed elevator inside a Hope Street apartment building in Williamsburg caused the gruesome death of a 37-year-old man visiting friends at the residence last October.
Members of the International Union of Elevator Constructors [IUEC] Local 1 joined with State Senator Martin Dilan [18th Senate District] in front of the Espoir apartment building at 156 Hope Street on Friday morning, where they held a brief moment of silence in memory of Eran Modan and issued a call to action to avert future tragedies.
“Eran’s death is all the more heartbreaking in the knowledge that it was preventable,” IUEC Local 1 Organizer Mike Halpin said. “Modan’s death is only the tip of the iceberg.”
Modan was killed inside the Espoir as he attempted to escape a faulty elevator where he and four friends were riding in last fall before it malfunctioned. The deadly elevator had a history of complaints and recorded violations.
Elevator accidents requiring rescue have jumped 160 percent over the last five years, according to the FDNY figures. A total of three people lost their lives in malfunctioning elevators during the last part of 2015.
Unlike 36 other states around the country, New York does not require elevator mechanics to undergo special training and licensing.
“It is just unbelievable that in the largest city in the world — the city with the tallest buildings in the entire world —that we do not have licensed professionals ensuring the public safety of the people of the City of New York,” State Senator Dilan said. “Now it’s time to get to work to make sure that New York has the best professionals possible.”
Legislation aimed at making that happen by mandating approved training and licensing for all elevator mechanics has failed here numerous times in recent years.
The New York City Department of Building opposes the legislation, in part, on the grounds that it duplicates already existing regulations.
“This is frightening to me because neither New York City nor New York State licenses elevator mechanics,” Halpin said. “There is no duplication here, and the legislation needs to be passed.”
Chris Randazzo, an elevator mechanic who works for P&W Elevators, Inc. — the contractor servicing the Espoir apartment building — said that workers are just not being properly trained.
Prior to coming to work for P&W, the 46-year-old went through four years of intensive training to do the job.
“There’s no real program for intense training,” Randazzo told LaborPress. “They’re coming in with zero knowledge of the business. The training isn’t there. They’re learning as they go and it’s not the way to work on this type of equipment.”
Randazzo also said that the company he works for has failed to supply him with proper safety equipment.
Despite coming up short in past years, however, State Senator Dilan said that he is confident that the Elevator Safety Act now has enough sponsors in the legislature this time around to pass muster before the current legislative session ends in June.