After New Year’s Elevator Death on LES, Pols Urge Passage of Stalled ‘Elevator Safety Bill’

Posted on: January 11th, 2016 at 5:17 am by

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Stephen Hewett-Brown

Mere minutes before the ball-drop ushered in 2016, tragedy struck 131 Broome Street, part of the Grand Street Guild, housing complex. A 25-year-old Bronx man named Stephen Hewett-Brown, retroactively hailed a hero, was crushed to death by a faulty elevator that had stalled between floors. Though, not before helping a female resident to safety.

In the wake of the incident, the spotlight is (rightfully) shining bright on elevator safety. Especially at 131 Broome. Lawmakers led by State Senator Daniel Squadron and Assemblyman Keith L.T. Wright are again trying to push through a long-fought-over bill – the Elevator Safety Act (S.1945/A.1787) – that would improve regulation, safety protocol, and licensure for elevators.

In particular, the proposed legislation would make it mandatory for elevator workers to be licensed and create an oversight body for elevator safety on the state level. As it stands, credentials are not required for elevator mechanics.

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Photo: Daniel Squadron

The electeds held a press conference on Friday afternoon calling for its passage, as the bill has been in limbo for years. It was first introduced during the 2011-2012 session and subsequently passed by the State Assembly four times, according to Squadron and Wright, two of the bill’s forty sponsors. However, there was opposition from the Senate majority each time.

“In NY, elevators are part of our daily lives — we need to ensure they are up to the safety standards on which lives depend,” said Squadron. “The death of Stephen Hewett-Brown is a reminder of the need for common-sense standards for elevator work. I thank Senator Bonacic, Assemblymember Wright, Local 1, labor leaders, and my colleagues for their continued push on this issue, and will continue to work for this bill’s passage.”

“We the Grand Street Guild Tenant Association support the Senator’s  passage of the bill that will improve the maintenance and safety of all elevator services and training for elevator workers,” said Daisy Paez, Grand Street Guild Tenant Association President.

Of course, front-page tragedy such as this elevator fatality is the only way to overcome the bureaucratic hurdles in this town. Let’s see what happens.

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