State Sen. Marc Panepinto, D-60th, was joined by representatives from IUEC Local 14 and WNY Council on Occupational Safety and Health Thursday to call on the Senate Republican majority to pass the Elevator Safety Act (S.1945). This was part of a renewed call in response to recent deadly incidents in Tonawanda and New York City. Panepinto's co-sponsored legislation would ensure the safety of employees who construct and maintain people-moving elevators and those residents who use them.
With more than 40 co-sponsors, the legislation would increase and formalize licensure and regulation for elevator workers across New York. The bill would provide baseline worker credentials, as exist for many trades, to ensure better training and help provide safety assurances in the wake of these deadly incidents.
"In a state where a license is required to own a gun or style hair, it is shameful that licensure to construct, maintain and repair an elevator is not required," Panepinto said. "Enough is enough; our residents and employees deserve New York state's protection. My colleagues in the Assembly have recognized the significance of this practical piece of legislation, passing it four times. It is time the Senate Republican majority take action and put an end to these needless deaths once and for all."
In 2015, there were at least five elevator-related deaths in New York - three of them involving passengers. Under the legislation, no less than four years of work experience and training and completion of a written exam are required in order to receive licensure. Additionally, elevator contractors must demonstrate proof of licensed mechanics under their employment.
"Recent deadly elevator failures like the one in Tonawanda highlight New York's alarming trend of dangerous elevator breakdowns and, all too often, these incidents are fatal," said Don Winkle, IUEC Local 14 business representative. "This lethal threat to public safety is preventable. Far too many elevator technicians are untrained and unlicensed - because they are not required to be. The New York State Legislature must pass the Elevator Safety Act and ensure our state's elevators are kept in safe condition by trained professionals."
Germain Harnden, WNY Council on Occupational Safety and Health executive director, said, "Workplace injuries and fatalities are fully preventable. However, when employers cut corners - when workers are not provided the proper safety equipment or given specific safety training - it can be a recipe for disaster. This bill will ensure not only that the men and women working on and around elevators are safe, but also better protect the public against unscrupulous contractor maintenance and construction."
Panepinto represents the 60th Senate District, which includes parts of the City of Buffalo as well as communities in both the north and south towns.