HABITAT

BUILDING OPERATIONS

Who’s Inspecting the City’s Elevator Inspectors?

New York City

Elevator Inspections
June 11, 2018

Many co-op and condo boards say they feel besieged by city inspectors eager to write violations for facade repairs, cooling tower and water tank maintenance, fire code compliance, and other work on building systems. Maybe it’s time for someone to start inspecting the inspectors.

In a recent audit, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli found that “private elevator inspectors in New York City are missing hazardous violations and allowing unsafe conditions to go unrepaired,” Curbed reports

The city’s Department of Buildings (DOB) has about 48 staff inspectors but regularly relies on private companies to assist in performing annual inspections for the city’s 71,000 elevators. The audit, which took a selective look at work carried out by some of the companies contracted by the DOB, produced some alarming findings. 

Auditing 12 elevators in nine buildings across the five boroughs, auditors accompanied by DOB inspectors found the following: elevator inspections were falsely certified before inspections were actually performed; some non-DOB inspectors failed to spot defective devices that are responsible for preventing doors from opening in between floors; and private inspectors did not inspect the top of elevator cars or the elevator pits at four of the nine sampled buildings, as required by standards set by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers

Additionally, two elevators in two different buildings had hoist cables that showed signs of wear. In one case, the problem was missed; in the other, the non-DOB inspector did not have the right tool to measure the cable thickness. 

“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,” DiNapoli said in a statement. “Even in a limited group of inspections, we found nearly every one missed violations that could pose risks to safety.” 

DiNapoli has made several recommended improvements to the DOB, including mandating that non-DOB inspectors comply with DOB procedures when performing elevators inspections. DOB officials have agreed to implement eight of the nine audit recommendations.

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