February 27, 2012 / 10:00 PM / in 6 years

Safety violations blamed in deadly elevator accident

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A fatal elevator accident at a Manhattan office building in December apparently was caused a bypassed safety circuit that mechanics had disabled during earlier maintenance, the city buildings commissioner said on Monday.

That was the conclusion of a two-month investigation following the death of a 41-year-old advertising executive who had stepped about halfway into the elevator when it suddenly shot upward, crushing her.

The probe also found that mechanics from Transel Elevator, Inc., who had been working on elevators before the accident occurred, failed to place caution tape across the elevator door jamb and to notify the city buildings department to inspect the elevators before restoring service, said city Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri in a statement.

A representative from Transel Elevator was not immediately available for comment.

The freak accident occurred mid-morning on December 14 at the building, located at 285 Madison Avenue near Grand Central Terminal, which houses several advertising agencies.

“These workers and their supervisors failed to follow the most basic safety procedures, and their carelessness cost a woman her life,” said LiMandri in the statement.

As a result of the safety failures, the buildings department suspended and is seeking to revoke the elevator company owner’s license after issuing 23 violations.

During earlier elevator maintenance, workers used a “jumper” wire to bypass safety circuits that otherwise prevent elevators from moving while their doors are open, which is a common repair routine, the buildings department said. However, they apparently failed to remove the “jumper” wire before putting the elevator back online, the report said.

Findings from the investigation, carried out by the buildings department and the Department of Investigation, were turned over to the Manhattan District Attorney’s office for possible criminal charges.

Reporting By Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Paul Thomasch

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