NYCHA elevator inspectors forced to fudge safety reports: whistleblowers

May 31, 2011 12:28PM

Six whistle-blowing New York City Housing Authority elevator inspectors have come forward to say they’re being forced to fake reports and take safety shortcuts, according to the New York Daily News. Supervisors, the inspectors say, are obsessed with meeting daily quotas of six inspections per day and often order employees to move to the next job without shutting down dangerous elevators or waiting for a mechanic, as NYCHA rules dictate.

“I told them somebody’s wife could be riding on that elevator, somebody’s kid,” a veteran inspector said. “They didn’t want to hear it.” Another veteran said he was repeatedly told not to enter deficiencies into a hand-held computer that generates work orders.

Anthony DePompeis, a 15-year NYCHA employee inspector, was recently charged with failing to report unsafe elevators and threatening to kill his boss. At a recent hearing, DePompeis said the fight, which resulted in the threat, was over his refusal to fudge reports. “If alarms don’t work of the zone locks don’t work, they say ‘Let it go’,” he testified at the disciplinary trial. “Whenever I seen stop switches broken, I was asked to move on. Whenever I seen zone locks broken, I was asked to move on.”

These revelations come just less than three years after the death of 5-year old Jacob Neuman, who fell to his death, trying to squeeze out of a broken elevator at a Brooklyn housing complex. The fatality provoked various probes and NYCHA vowed to spend $107 million to replace 350 broken elevators and $5 million for new inspectors.

The number of inspectors responsible for 3,326 city elevators has remained unchanged since the incident. There are, however, 74 extra maintenance positions and NYCHA has begun working with private inspection companies.

NYCHA recently announced that it has only a small fraction of the funds— $1.5 billion of $7.5 billion– required to make necessary repairs in New York City public housing projects. [NYDN]