2000 NYC Elevators Tagged After Inspection

More than 400,000 elevator inspections conducted between 2017 and 2019 shows 2,127 instances where elevators were given “satisfactory” or “no violation” ratings by private inspectors — only to attract violations issued by the NYC Department of Buildings in the next 90 days. We know elevator contractors are working hard to keep the elevators in New York City safe, so why is this happening?

Every passenger elevator in New York City undergoes a pair of annual inspections but in thousands of cases, elevators are passing those inspections only to be tagged with city-issued violations in the days and months immediately thereafter. This raises the question, is there something wrong with the system?


Of the 35 million elevator trips that New Yorkers take everyday, most don’t go wrong. But when they do, it can be horrifying. Samuel Waisbren, a 30-year-old resident at the Manhattan Promenade , was crushed to death when the elevator he was exiting malfunctioned. He was crushed against the lift shaft between the lobby and the basement floors and was pronounced dead at the scene. The deadly accident unfolded just three weeks after the elevator passed an inspection conducted by a company called LCD Elevator. The scheduled test conducted by elevator technicians involved an “exhaustive review of all the elevator’s safety systems, including the brakes,” according to the city’s Department of Buildings. The inspectors found no violations or deficiencies and approved the elevator for service.

Another incident that occurred in 2015 was equally as horrifying. Eran Modan was stepping into an elevator when the brake gave way, causing the elevator to fall with the doors still open.  In a panic, he turned to jump back up to the quickly disappearing lobby floor, but the car continued its descent and its ceiling landed on him, crushing his head and torso. Residents of the luxury rental building had been wary of the elevator and its unexpected jerks. Despite complaints filed with the city’s Department of Buildings in 2012, the agency’s experts found nothing wrong in follow-up inspections of the unit. P&W Elevators, the company that did maintenance on the lift regularly and conducted annual safety tests, flagged no issues with the agency. Six months after Modan died, an investigator found that the elevator’s brake wasn’t functioning properly.  


Some say it’s unfair to hold an inspector accountable for predicting all the problems an elevator might experience in the months after an annual inspection. The idea of an inspection that’s a snapshot in time and that tells you what the condition was on that particular day. Timothy Hogan, the Department of Buildings Deputy Commissioner of Enforcement, said the city’s elevator safety record is “fantastic.” Hogan says, “We have 70,000 plus elevators in this city. They do over a billion trips a year and in the last 3 years we’ve had one fatality, an unfortunate incident. But if you look at the overall number incidents and accidents that we have with our elevators, it’s probably the safest mode of transportation that you have anywhere.”

How can inspectors and elevator contractors make sure these incidents don’t keep happen? It’s hard to find a solution to a problem with an unidentified cause. At this point, we will have to wait for future developments in the elevator world to ensure the safety of all elevator mechanics and passengers going forward.

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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Troubling Findings for NYC Elevator Inspections

Most people don’t think twice before stepping into an elevator. However, a recent report released by New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s office conjures nightmare scenarios for those who rely on elevators on a daily basis. The audit, released on June 6, cited some troubling findings regarding NYC elevator inspections by the city’s Department of Buildings. According to the report, “private elevator inspectors in New York City are missing hazardous violations and allowing unsafe conditions to go unrepaired.”

The audit was based on an examination of 12 elevators in nine buildings throughout the five boroughs as a sample. It underlines the fact that NYC has over 71,000 elevators yet there are only 48 staff inspectors at the DOB. As a result, the DOB contracts private companies to conduct the annual elevator inspections.

The audit looked at work carried out by some of the companies contracted by the DOB to perform NYC elevator inspections. The findings were alarming.

  • Two non-DOB elevator inspectors had signed elevator inspection certificates for 15 elevators in 14 buildings before the inspections were under way.
  • Three non-DOB inspectors did not identify broken door restrictors, which are devices that prevent elevator doors from opening between floors. Such a problem with the restrictors would require the elevator to be taken out of service until that issue was fixed.
  • The inspectors found hoist cables showing signs of rouging, which are abrasions that cause wearing on the cables. At one building, a non-DOB inspector missed the rouging, while at another building, a non-DOB inspector noticed rouging but didn’t have the proper tool to determine how serious the problem was.
  • private inspectors did not inspect the top of elevator cars or the elevator pits at four of the nine sampled buildings (standards set by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers requires this to be done).
  • There were violations overlooked in 11 of the 12 elevators in the sample.
  • In 2015, 13 percent of the 62,166 elevator inspections were not performed by non-DOB inspectors.
  • In 2016, 11 percent (6,741) annual elevator inspections that the DOB required to be completed by contracted inspectors were not complete. Even in some of the inspections that were completed, violations that should have resulted in an elevator being taken out of service were overlooked.
  • In 2016, 11 percent of the 63,314 elevator inspections were not conducted by non-DOB inspectors.


DiNapoli spoke to the press about the findings: “In a vertical city, with tens of thousands of elevators carrying millions of people, it is unacceptable that New Yorkers should have to worry about false inspections or hazardous conditions. Even in a limited group of inspections, we found nearly every one missed violations that could pose risks to safety. While the Department of Buildings deserves credit for taking steps to address the concerns and recommendations we’ve made in our audit report, the agency needs to ensure that all inspections are complete and thorough so that New Yorkers can feel confident that the elevators they ride in are safe.”

DiNapoli’s made nine recommendations to improve the inspection process. Some of the recommendations are as follows:

  • Remind elevator inspection companies to follow the proper guidelines in the inspections and to identify those elevators that need to be taken out of service.
  • Non-DOB inspectors need to follow the department’s rules when conducting the inspections.
  • DOB needs to communicate with building owners about imminent inspections.
  • The use of stiffer actions, such as fines, to penalize building owners when inspections are not conducted.


According to the comptroller’s office, the DOB agreed with eight of the nine recommendations from the report. In a statement quoted by The Real Deal, DOB Commissioner Rick Chandler said: “New York’s elevators are one of our safest forms of transportation – and DOB’s strong elevator regulations are a key reason why. That said, we take the Comptroller’s input seriously and have already taken steps to address many of these recommendations.”

Inaccurate inspection reports and missed violations mean unsafe conditions go unrepaired. These elevators are unsafe for the public as well as the elevator maintenance workers. FIELDBOSS Lift can help your company manage and track inspections and violations with Violation Management, a unique feature that is configurable for New York City (NYC) as well as other jurisdictions.

With Violation Management, users can:

  • Simplify the violation management process into actionable steps.
  • Create open violations and defects on a specific elevator while managing critical dates, defect responsibility and monitoring the remediation to completion.
  • Create a Quote for customer approval or a Work Order for contractor work.
  • Manage the scheduling and purchasing needs of a violation repair.
  • Provide the mechanics with all the information required to resolve the violation on their mobile device.
  • Automatically invoice the work order once the work is completed.


FIELDBOSS Lift gives you the tools you need to manage violations, avoid headaches, and keep your team safe and informed. Contact us for a free demo or for more information.


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