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NYC Worker Severely Injured - Local Union Calls for Elevator Safety Act

Continuing an alarming trend of workplace accidents, there has been another awful tragedy in New York City. This time, an elevator mechanic was crushed by an elevator in the basement of a Manhattan building, according to a spokesman from the Fire Department.

The incident took place in an elevator shaft at 380 Lafayette St. at 11:04 a.m. on Wednesday morning. He was moved to Bellevue Hospital after rescue crews took nearly an hour to free him from a tangled mess of wires and debris.

Unfortunately, elevator accidents are not uncommon in New York. In another separate incident earlier this week, four Con Edison workers were injured when the elevator dropped 200 feet and came crashing down to an underground shaft at the company's Vinegar Hill, Brooklyn facility. In a tragic incident from October 2016, a baby died after plunging down the elevator shaft of a Coney Island building with a history of code violations.

Immediately after the terrible elevator crush incident in Noho, the Union of Elevator Constructors Local 1 responded by calling for the passage of the Elevator Safety Act.

"Increasing the safety of all New Yorkers either working on or riding in elevators should be an immediate priority to prevent accidents like the one today from happening again," said Lenny Legotte, Business Manager for the union.

The Elevator Safety Act is a piece of legislation that would set minimum standards for the education and training of elevator mechanics in New York State. The legislation's aim is to protect the safety of elevator mechanics and, just as importantly, the safety of the many people who ride in elevators each day.

Passage of the Act would bring New York in line with the majority of other states. More than 30 states have passed similar laws that require licensing for elevator contractors, according to Liberty Elevator Corporation.

The Act has passed the New York State Assembly four times since 2012 but has yet to be passed in the State Senate, even though Governor Andrew Cuomo has stated he will sign the bill if passed. There has also been opposition within New York City government, with leaders asserting that elevator mechanics are already required to receive a license from the Department of Buildings in order to perform maintenance work on NYC elevators. This assertion has been called false by a union spokesman.

Losing patience with the status quo, local politicians have begun pushing to improve elevator safety in public housing. One such effort is being led by two city councilmen in The Bronx. Their proposed NYCHA Elevator Safety and Accountability Act would require annual maintenance of elevator brake monitors and monitoring systems, and require the NYPD and FDNY to promptly notify the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) about any injuries or deaths that occur on NYCHA property.

This is not the first time there was a push for the Elevator Safety Act to be passed after a tragic incident. In early 2016, 25-year-old Stephen Hewett-Brown was crushed to death after the elevator stalled and suddenly dropped at a Lower East Side building.

Whether this recent incident would further prompt city and state officials to include stricter elevator guidelines in the legislation is uncertain. However, the indisputable fact is that we should continue to hold politicians and businesses responsible for preventable deaths and injuries. This week's two instances alone continue to highlight a trend in preventable worker injuries in New York.

As evidenced by earlier reported incidents, elevator accidents can be very serious. If you or a loved one suffered as a result of an elevator accident, you may be eligible to file a premises liability claim, seeking financial compensation for lost earnings, medical costs, pain and suffering, and other damages.

The attorneys at Block O'Toole & Murphy are experienced in litigating and recovering compensation for clients in elevator injury cases including:

For more information, please call 212-736-5300 to speak with a qualified lawyer.