Press Release

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NYCHA Takes Disciplinary Action Against Five Employees Following Tragic Elevator Accident; Appoints New Head of Elevator Services; Upgrades Elevator Policies, Safety Training, and Response Protocols

As a result of internal and Department of Investigation (DOI) reports, NYCHA improves elevator policies, communications, training and sense of accountability

NEW YORK— The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) today announced that it has taken immediate and long-term corrective actions following the elevator accidents at Boston Road Plaza and Morris Houses last December. The Authority has enhanced elevator policies and procedures, improved communications and systems for reporting emergencies, and is training staff in new response protocols. Additionally, NYCHA has taken disciplinary action against five employees, including replacing its head of elevators.

“These incidents undermine all of the improvements we are trying to make at NYCHA,” said NYCHA General Manager Michael Kelly. “Over the past year, I’ve worked with Chair Olatoye to change how the Authority does business and reset relationships with both employees and residents that have strained over the years. As we work to improve NYCHA for the next generation, we are engaging staff daily to cultivate a high-performing culture that better serves our residents while making NYCHA safe, clean and connected.”

New Policies & Procedures:

New Brake Monitor Protocols – New protocol requires the inspection of brake monitors (or other elevator safety devices) when preventative maintenance is performed, when elevator brake systems are inspected, and when elevators are restored to service. These procedures have been adopted.

Problem-Identification Codes – NYCHA is expanding and refining the range of problem codes and classifications so that elevator emergencies can be classified by Customer Contact Center (CCC) staff more accurately and operations staff can prioritize accordingly.

9-1-1 – Any hazardous, life-threatening elevator conditions that are flagged by CCC will be escalated to 9-1-1 for FDNY response no matter the time of day. This protocol has been adopted and staff is being trained.

Communications & Systems:

First Responder Communications – To improve communications between 911-dispatched emergency responders and NYCHA for major incidents and accidents related to or on NYCHA properties, NYCHA will work with its partners at the FDNY and NYPD on improving and ensuring efficient communications and reporting about any dangerous issues observed at NYCHA facilities.

Complaint Notes – Elevator dispatch staff are now required to share all notes captured in the complaint with the elevator mechanic so our maintenance staff can identify all relevant details of a complaint. This will provide another level of safety assurance in assessing the potential hazard and prioritizing NYCHA’s response. This directive was implemented in March.

NYC Building Code – NYCHA is creating a regulation monitoring system for program compliance, which will include:
  • A stakeholder working group comprised of affected NYCHA departments (operations and maintenance, capital projects and law)
  • Real-time updates and alerts
  • A protocol for policy, procedure and training implementation
  • Additional staff capacity on the elevator code committee


First Contact Elevator Training – Elevator staff have trained Customer Contact Center supervisors on elevator functionality and hazards to help better train call-takers on properly identifying and coding an elevator hazard. More detailed triage questions were also developed to help better match the problem with the right priority code.

Safety Device Training – NYCHA is implementing on-site field training tailored for the Elevator Service & Repair Department to identify high-priority and dangerous conditions, emergency brake systems, regulations and protocols.

Duty & Accountability:

Disciplinary Action – Disciplinary charges were filed in connection with the Boston Road Plaza accident against five employees who failed to do their job and enforce the safety of NYCHA residents. In addition, these five employees have been reassigned. The head of the elevator Division has been relieved of his day-to-day duties related to monitoring building codes and inspections. A new interim Acting Director of Elevators, Ivo Nikolic, has been appointed. Nikolic holds a Master’s Degree in Engineering and has demonstrated leadership in the areas of operational performance and quality assurance.

Escalation Directives – Elevator staff must report all elevator problems to their supervisor, and Customer Contact Center (CCC) operators are to escalate calls to their shift supervisor if there is any question as to the level of danger they are describing. NYCHA is improving staff training at the call center and has expanded the materials made available to CCC staff.

Reinforcing the Importance of Elevator Safety – NYCHA is launching an elevator safety campaign to educate both staff and residents on the need to report hazardous elevator conditions.

Shifting NYCHA’s Culture:

Enhanced Quality Assurance – NYCHA will enhance and expand its Quality Assurance program. Moving forward, NYCHA will build upon its quality assurance inspections to ensure that employees at every level—from CCC call-takers to development and elevator staff—are following correct procedure, communicating, and escalating when there is a potential hazard that threatens the safety of NYCHA residents or employees.

Interdepartmental Communication – To help bridge the gap between central office and frontline staff, all senior NYCHA staff members dedicate a half day monthly to visit developments and meet with frontline staff. It is an opportunity for senior staff to hear from staff directly about what goes on at the property level, and to discuss first-hand how, with their help, the Authority can make NYCHA communities safe, clean and connected for both residents and employees.

NYCHA Elevators by the Numbers:

  • NYCHA operates 3,314 elevators citywide
  • NYCHA has 503 staff dedicated to elevators (supervisors, mechanics and helpers)
  • NYCHA elevators make 3.2 million trips per day
  • NYCHA elevators make 1.2 billion trips per year