Elevator Safety (Follow-Up)

Issued Date
October 28, 2019
Buildings, New York City Department of


To determine the extent of implementation of the nine recommendations included in our initial audit report, Elevator Safety (Report 2017-N-4).

About the Program

The New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) is responsible for regulating the safe and lawful use of more than 1 million buildings and construction sites in New York City. This responsibility includes the oversight of elevators. DOB inspects some elevators, oversees the inspection of others by contractors (non-DOB inspectors), ensures that elevators are tested, and monitors the results.

The Building Code requires that elevators under DOB’s jurisdiction be inspected and tested annually. In the City, certain elevators are not subject to inspections and testing by DOB or one of its contractors. Through a memorandum of understanding, DOB authorized the New York City Housing Authority to perform elevator inspections and tests within its buildings. Additionally, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is responsible for inspecting and testing its elevators. Annual inspections are generally performed by companies hired by DOB. Building owners hire DOB-licensed inspection companies to perform elevator tests. Annual inspections are generally performed by companies hired by DOB. Building owners hire DOB-licensed inspection companies to perform elevator tests.

Our initial audit report, issued on June 6, 2018, concluded that, while non-DOB inspectors had the appropriate credentials, they did not always perform thorough elevator inspections. We accompanied DOB and non-DOB inspectors on 12 inspections and found violations were missed or overlooked for 11 of the 12 sampled elevators. When we reviewed the overall data for inspectors for 2015 and 2016, we determined that 14,828 elevator inspections scheduled to be performed by non-DOB inspectors had not been performed. Moreover, we were unable to determine if 8,437 tests had actually been performed by inspectors hired by building owners, as DOB did not provide records. As a result, hazardous and other unsafe conditions were not always identified and corrected.

Key Findings

We found that DOB officials implemented three recommendations, partially implemented four, and did not implement two. Among issues still requiring attention, DOB has not adequately reinforced proper inspection procedures with the two inspection companies it contracts with; has not provided all tools and advice necessary to non-DOB inspectors to perform quality inspections; has performed minimal re-inspections of elevators previously inspected by ineffective inspectors; has not communicated upcoming inspection schedules to building owners to minimize incidents of inspectors arriving and not having access to buildings; and has not adequately determined the reason for missed inspections in 2015 and 2016.

Key Recommendation

Officials are given 30 days after the issuance of the follow-up review to provide information on any actions that are planned to address the unresolved issues discussed in this review.

Kenrick Sifontes

State Government Accountability Contact Information:
Audit Director:Kenrick Sifontes
Phone: (212) 417-5200; Email: [email protected]
Address: Office of the State Comptroller; Division of State Government Accountability; 110 State Street, 11th Floor; Albany, NY 12236