Gov. Andrew Cuomo must sign an elevator-safety bill on the heels of a Manhattan man’s freak-accident crushing death on Thursday, lawmakers demanded Sunday.
Elevator maintenance workers are responsible for the safety of countless New Yorkers as they whiz sometimes hundreds of feet up and down the city’s more-than 84,000 elevators, but they require less licensing than a barber.
A bill passed in June would change that, requiring elevator mechanics prove their qualifications before obtaining a first-ever elevator mechanics’ license — but it has languished in Albany, awaiting the governor’s signature.
“It’s critically important that this gets signed into law,” said state Sen. Diane Savino (D–Brooklyn/Staten Island), who sponsored the bill in her chamber. “It’s important for the people who work on the elevators and the safety of [those] who ride on them.”
Sam Waisbren, 30, died Thursday after the elevator at his 344 Third Ave. apartment building gave way while he was stepping out and he was crushed between the cab and the shaft.
The cause is being investigated but lawmakers say the case reveals the need for increased safety in the industry.
“It won’t, unfortunately, change anything in terms of this recent tragedy,” bill co-sponsor state Sen. Brad Hoylman (D–Manhattan) said of the legislation. “But I think it shines a light on how something as commonplace as getting into an elevator can be a roll of the dice in some buildings.”
Graphic video shows moment man crushed stepping out of elevator
One of every New Yorker’s worst nightmares played out Thursday…
While many elevator mechanics are on the up and up, it’s common sense for them to be licensed, according to an industry source familiar with the infamously balky elevators at Waisbren’s Third Avenue building.
“Most of the employers make sure their guys are trained, educated and experienced,” the insider explained.
But “[it] just makes sense if you need a license to hunt, to fish, to drive a car, to do somebody’s nails, you’d need one” to do something that affects millions of people every day, the source added.
Cuomo’s office said it is waiting for state lawyers to review the bill’s fine print before he signs it.
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“This is one of more than 900 bills that passed both houses at the end of session, and while it hasn’t been sent to us yet, it remains under review by Counsel’s office,” a Cuomo spokesman said.