4 Investigates: NM doesn’t require elevator safety inspections | KOB 4
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4 Investigates: NM doesn’t require elevator safety inspections

Chris Ramirez
March 12, 2019 10:43 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Despite the many mechanical components and the possible safety risks, getting in and out of elevators is something most people do without a second thought. But, 4 Investigates has discovered most elevators in New Mexico aren’t required to be inspected or maintained.

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Elevators revolutionized the construction industry.  With its invention, America saw cities build up, versus out. Elevators became more and more common in buildings, states created a set of codes to govern the installation, maintenance and inspections of elevators. Even though New Mexico saw growth as well, state government never created a set of laws to ensure the safety of people inside elevators. It’s a fact that most people using elevators in New Mexico don’t know. 

KOB 4 met Trinian Cinias in a Santa Fe elevator, who didn’t know the elevator she was riding didn’t have any inspection reports on file. 

“That's not good because I have PTSD and in a closed area, I would panic,” Cinias said.  “I would pass out if something were to happen.”

Around the country, people are injured or stuck in malfunctioning elevators frequently. While no known catastrophe has happened in New Mexico, with hundreds of elevators going without inspections or mandated maintenance, some worry it may only a matter of time before someone is seriously injured.

The one exception

There is one exception in New Mexico, and that is the City of Albuquerque. On its own, the City decided years ago that elevator safety was important. Elevators within the City limits are inspected routinely by the Planning Department and proof of the inspection must be displayed. Some corporate owners, on their own, contract out elevator inspections out of goodwill. But outside of Albuquerque, they aren’t mandated to keep up with maintenance and inspections.   

Possible solution

There is currently a bill in the New Mexico State Legislature that would create the Elevator Safety Act, a set of laws that govern the installation, maintenance and inspections of elevators statewide.  Rep. Harry Garcia (D-Grants) and Rep. Rudy Martinez (D-Bayard) cosponsor HB 644. 

“Once you are on that elevator, you are at the mercy of that elevator and if they are not inspected and something fails, somebody is going to wind up being hurt or killed and we're going to be saying ‘wow, we should have done this a long time ago,’” said Rep. Garcia. “We need to make sure we have oversight so that we know they are getting inspected.  

But the chances of the Elevator Safety Act getting passed into law grow slimmer by the day. The bill has been stuck in the House State Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee and the chair of that committee Rep. Georgene Louis (D- Albuquerque) hasn’t called it up for debate. The longer HB644 is stalled in one committee, the less of a chance it has to move to the House Floor and into the Senate for passage before the legislative sessions on March 16. If lawmakers don’t create laws to govern elevator maintenance and inspections, New Mexico continues to gamble with its people’s safety.

Track this bill during the legislative session

Credits

Chris Ramirez

Copyright 2019 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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