Gov. Cuomo Signs Long Awaited Elevator Safety Act

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed the long awaited Elevator Safety Act, which requires anyone who designs, builds, inspects, maintains and/or repairs elevators to be licensed by the state. The legislation also creates a nine member New York State Elevator Safety & Standards Advisory Board to help establish recommendations for elevator inspections, examinations to satisfy licensing requirements, and enforcement to ensure compliance and promote public safety. The DOB must also start maintaining a list of licensed mechanics, contractors and inspectors. The list will be made available on the agency’s website.

Gov. Cuomo approved the new bill reinforcing elevator safety in the aftermath of a gruesome Manhattan accident that killed a man. However, in a compromise to win Cuomo’s signature, lawmakers agreed to amend the bill and have state government delay implementation of the “Elevator Safety Act” from June until January 2022.

The measure will require the state Labor Department to license mechanics and others who oversee the maintenance of 70,000 elevators in the city buildings and require more extensive education and training, bringing the state in line with standards required in the rest of the U.S.

Under the new law, workers can obtain a license through a few different methods, including taking a written test on national, state, and local codes (with at least four years of experience) or completing a union apprenticeship/other approved training program.

A January 2019 report by The Real Deal showed how elevator-related injuries and fatalities in recent years underscored lapses in the enforcement of city safety standards and a lack of consistency in training of elevator contractors. Between 2010 and 2018, at least 22 people were killed in passenger elevators or shafts in the city, according to the Department of Buildings. Twelve of the fatalities were mechanics.

The law is backed by the International Union of Elevator Constructors (IUEC) Local 1, which has long sought licensing rules to toughen elevator safety in New York by setting minimum education and training standards for elevator mechanics.

“After a decade of hard work, New York is finally taking an important first step forward in elevator safety,” said IUEC Local 1 business manager Lenny Legotte..

But Legotte suggested more work needs to be done.

“As we work towards implementation, we remain committed to building on this progress and to one day making New York a national leader in elevator safety,” he said.

Other than New York, 36 states and the District of Columbia require elevator mechanics to be licensed.

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Are Elevator Regulations Failing Us?

elevator regulations

Based on data from the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics, 30 people die and 17,000 are seriously hurt in incidents on elevators and escalators each year. Most recently, issues in Washington, Texas and North Carolina are calling into question methods that are used to regulate the industry and keep riders safe.

Washington

Although Washington state law requires every elevator and escalator in the state to be inspected annually, more than half of the states’ 18,000 conveyances were not inspected in 2018. What’s worse, thousands of conveyances had not been inspected for two or three years, and investigators found three that had not been inspected in more than 10 years. The backlog has been blamed on a building boom generating more elevators and escalators in need of annual inspections. The state has also had a hard time keeping its inspectors from taking better-paying jobs with construction firms.

Next year’s audit may show an improvement now that additional funding allows the state to pay its inspectors higher salaries, and legislators approved more money to hire conveyance inspections. Technology is also allowing inspectors to spend more time in the field, rather than back at the office filling out paperwork.

North Carolina

The situation in North Carolina is a similar one. CBS 17 found that thousands of elevators are overdue for those inspections. This is shocking given that the North Carolina Department of Labor has full-time employees who have the responsibility of inspecting the 27,000 elevators and escalators across the state once per year. While the department does aim to meet that goal every year, a recent analysis of the inspection data for those devices found that’s not happening. As of late September, about 14 percent of elevators were overdue for inspection.

The biggest problem the North Carolina Department of Labor has is recruiting and hiring qualified elevator inspectors. To become an inspector, you need five years’ experience in the trade and become certified if not already. An added problem is that the private sector typically pays better. Starting pay for inspectors is $53,083.

Elevator owners are required to have contracts to maintain them, and the state will respond if you call about an issue. But the inspectors are supposed to serve as the extra set of eyes to ensure safety for the public. The department is aiming to get better at recruiting and retaining employees and has hired six new inspectors this year to meet this goal.

Texas

The story is similar in Texas, where a nurse was nearly crushed to death in an elevator at a Fort Worth hospital. State investigators blamed the incident on worn-out brakes caused by lack of maintenance. Since 2004, nearly half of all elevator accidents in Texas happened in Dallas and Fort Worth. About one-third of those occurred at hospitals, which typically have elevators running day and night, particularly in urban areas.

A WFAA investigation found significant problems in the state’s program to ensure the safety of Texas’ 40,000 passenger elevators — including missed inspections, neglected elevators, shoddy record-keeping and failing oversight. A major problem is that the state has no inspectors on its payroll. Although the state does have a chief inspector and a deputy based in Austin, neither actually completes inspections. So who does? Texas issues licenses to approximately 150 independent contractors to inspect elevators across the state. Some have more training than others and are of varying quality and experience. But what is the minimum required training to become an elevator inspector in Texas? A $50 state fee and a three-day class, records show. Needless to say, this is not enough training, when issues with an elevator can quickly become life or death situations.

Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation enforces the annual inspection requirement. But analysis of the state’s own data shows 5,617 — or 14% — of all elevators are overdue for their annual inspection – some by years. There are a lot of building owners out there who are either unaware that they need to have their elevators inspected or that don’t care. WFAA also found numerous errors in the state’s elevator database, which is littered with elevators that no longer exist, as well as some inspectors faking inspections.

Conclusion

Lack of trained inspectors, insufficient funding, major inspection backlogs, and incorrect databases seem to be common themes amongst the three states- and likely in many others as well. Increased government funding, adequate training programs, increased inspector accountability, and better inspector vetting processes must all be put in place in order to see drastic improvements in elevator safety across the country.


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 stays current on industry trends to keep you informed on what’s happening in the elevator world. Read our blog and sign up for our newsletter for all the latest news.

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Elevator Safety Act Still A Priority in NY State

Ten percent of the country’s elevators exist in New York State, and of that ten percent, a majority operates in New York City, where many millions of people rely on elevators to get safely to and from work and home. Currently New York State doesn’t require people working on elevators to receive any education, training, or licensing by the state. The Act has been introduced 5 times without any luck but according to state Sen. Diane Savino, the push for elevator safety legislation will still be a legislative priority come January.

Over the last few years, there have been some shocking revelations about the NYC elevator industry. The New York City Comptroller issued an audit finding that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) fails to properly maintain its elevators and escalators, the State University of New York (SUNY) system fails to meet elevator maintenance and safety standards, and the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) has been found to have similar, but more severe elevator safety issues including critical injuries and fatalities of residents and workers.

Just last week three of the NYCHA’s top elevator division managers surrendered to authorities facing dozens of felony counts for lying and committing elevator inspection fraud. According to the DA, the three managers who helped oversee NYCHA’s 3,314 elevators, regularly filed false reports from 2014 – 2018 claiming lifts had been inspected when they weren’t. The trio allegedly continued filing false reports even after an 84-year-old man died in a faulty elevator in the Mill Brook Houses in the Bronx on Christmas Eve in 2015.

State Sen. John Bonacic believes the answer to these extensive and dangerous issues throughout the city and state rests in the hands of the New York State Legislature with the Elevator Safety Act. In 2012, Bonacic introduced a bill that would require anyone involved in the mechanics of elevators – such as designers, construction workers, operators and inspectors – to be licensed by the state labor commissioner. The Elevator Safety Act would mandate licensing and set minimum standards for training.

The bill was approved by the Senate Labor Committee and passed by the Assembly, but failed to advance in the Senate Finance Committee. Bonacic reintroduced the bill four more times, without any luck.

Earlier this year, Bonacic announced his retirement, but according to state Sen. Diane Savino, the push for elevator safety legislation will still be a legislative priority come January. Savino replaced Bonacic as sponsor of the bill when she reintroduced it in March 2017. When Democrats assume control of the Senate next year, the bill might make it to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s desk. Elevator contractors across New York State should be ready should this Act becomes a law.

FIELDBOSS stays current on industry trends to keep you informed on what’s happening in the elevator world. Read our blog and sign up for our newsletter for all the latest news.

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Bill 148: Ontario Elevator Contractors Face New Regulatory Challenge

Ontario is quickly becoming home to the toughest government regulatory environment for elevator contractors.  In May,  Bill 8, Access to Consumer Credit Reports and Elevator Availability Act was passed, making Ontario the first jurisdiction in the world to establish standards for elevator repair times.  With the impending Bill 148 set to become a law on January 1, 2019, Ontario elevator contractors are set to face yet another challenge.

Bill 148 Part VII.2 Scheduling states “Minimum pay for being on call 21.4 (1) If an employee is on call to work and is either not called to work or is called to work but works less than three hours, the employer shall pay to the employee wages equal to the employee’s regular rate for three hours of work.” This new regulation calling for mandatory minimum 3-hour labour standby time could have traumatic financial implications for elevator contractors in Ontario.

Based on the costs that non-union contractors in Ontario will face if this legislation stays in place, CECA is recommending they hire a lobbyist to fight for an exemption from this standby clause. CECA believes this issue could flow over to the union sector at a later date and eventually to the other provinces.

FIELDBOSS Lift is a Canadian owned elevator service software. Designed in Ontario, if we can help contractors here, help for you is just a click away.

FIELDBOSS is a proud member of CECA and NAEC. We stay current on industry trends to keep you informed on what’s happening in the elevator world.  Read our blog and sign up for our newsletter  for all the latest news.

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Ontario Releases Elevator Availability Action Plan in Response to TSSA Report

After a short delay, the Ontario government has finally responded to the TSSA’s report on elevator availability and reliability. The Ontario government announced its elevator availability action plan to address all of the recommendations included in the final report. This phased-in action plan will make Ontario the first jurisdiction in the world to establish elevator repair timelines.

Ontario’s elevator availability action plan includes the following proposed actions and projected timelines:

  • Enhancing access to elevators for first responders (mid-2018).
  • Enhancing enforcement of elevator safety regulation by TSSA to ensure elevators are adequately and proactively maintained (fall 2018).
  • Addressing the labour supply of elevator mechanics through consultations to determine options to meet labour market demands (fall 2018).
  • Creating future standards for elevator repair timelines, including proposing any necessary legislative and regulatory amendments, to be informed by the data collected by TSSA — making Ontario the first jurisdiction worldwide to do so (2018 through 2019).
  • Developing education and awareness materials for building owners and residents to support compliance with requirements for notice of service disruptions (fall 2018 and into early 2019).
  • Creating new standards for conducting traffic analyses and the minimum number of elevators in new residential and institutional high-rise buildings through changes to the Ontario Building Code (beginning 2018 through 2021).
  • Establishing baseline data through proposed legislative and regulatory changes creating reporting requirements for elevator outage data and making the data publicly available (early to mid-2019).
  • Designating an appropriate regulatory body to administer and enforce requirements regarding elevator availability, including standards for elevator repair and timelines, and to advise on associated compliance costs for elevator contractors and owners (late 2019).

 

THE TSSA Final Report

The elevator availability action plan is in response to on-going concerns related to elevator reliability and availability and the lack of data on the topic. As a result, the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA), in partnership with the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services (MGCS) and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs (MMA), engaged Retired Superior Court Justice Douglas Cunningham to author an independent study, with support from Deloitte’s Public Sector Strategy team. The final report was released on January 25th, 2018. Ontario’s elevator availability plan aims to define and enhance elevator reliability by ensuring building owners perform preventive maintenance to reduce the thousands of annual entrapments and other unscheduled shutdowns.

According to retired Justice Douglas Cunningham’s 57-page report, “There are currently no minimum preventive maintenance standards in Ontario to minimize future availability issues. Compliance with minimum maintenance standards for safety, shown to signal more effective preventive maintenance practices, is at an all-time low.”

Cunningham also reports that only one in five residential buildings are meeting minimum rules for scheduled maintenance tasks.

Other recommendations include forcing contractors to report outages over 48 hours or when half the elevators in a building are out of service — 80 per cent of buildings have only one or two lifts — and having a defined plan to restore service.

Cunningham believes the problems that trigger elevator outages are a “diverse and complex set of interrelated issues” including maintenance, capacity problems and labour shortages.

In Ontario, the TSSA are responsible for regulating elevators, from licensing to inspections, and ensuring that all devices conform to current regulations, codes and standards. There are over 20,000 elevators in Ontario located in approximately 10,000 residential and institutional buildings. This equates to over 655,000 elevator trips each day.

Tracy MacCharles, the Minister of Government and Consumer Services said “Having access to a working elevator shouldn’t be considered a luxury, especially for those with disabilities, the sick and the elderly. Our proposed actions would position Ontario as a world leader for elevator repair timelines and ensure those who need elevator access, have access.”

Rimrock Corporation is committed to developing FIELDBOSS Lift for contractors and consultants to help with the compliance associated with the elevator availability action plan. 

  • With the click of a button, you can create an email campaign to notify your customers if their elevators fall under a new rule or regulation.
  • Safety manuals and equipment handbooks are  accessible on mobile apps, technicians can communicate with the office immediately or see which qualified technicians are available and in the area for help.
  • Checklists can be completed online and the back office will know immediately when tasks are finished or if something was missed.
  • Automate regularly scheduled maintenance calls so no inspection or procedure ever gets missed.
  • Automatically and continuously update information, collect critical data, and receive alerts on violations, complaints, inspections, fines, hearings, jobs, and permits for property owners, managers, and service companies.

 

In today’s environment, compiling manual information on a spreadsheet is not enough to prevent critical issues from slipping through the cracks. Constant attention and technology are required to prevent the accumulation of risk factors that can lead to violations and fines.

Contact FIELDBOSS today and learn how FIELDBOSS Lift can help ensure your company is compliant with the new rules and regulations.

 

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