In our recent post about the elevator accident that took the life of a 41-year old woman in New York City, we noted that a recent inspection had revealed some problems with the elevator. One possible reason that the problem was not addressed may be the structure of the bureaucracy responsible for building safety, according to a recent article by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stinger that was published in the Huffington Post.
Currently, the Department of Buildings (DOB) is charged with approving and monitoring new construction and existing building safety. In order to do this, the DOB contracts with private companies to conduct routine building inspections, such as elevator inspctions. These private contractors self-certify that their findings are accurate and have little or no supervision from the DOB.
This practice was implemented in 1995 to deal with the inspection backlog in the DOB. However, the NYPD’s numbers show that in 2001 more than 36,000 people were rescued from elevators in the city, double the number in the previous two years.
The recent incident is associated with a maintenance company that performed work on the elevator last week just hours before the accident. The same company was associated with another tragedy in September 2011, when an elevator technician plunged 10 stories to his death.
The DOB will conduct a review of the work of the elevator company, Transel Elevator Inc.
Source: Huffington Post, “Fix Our Broken Building Inspection Process“, by Scott Stinger, Dec. 21, 2011.