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Shocking Elevator Death Drawing Renewed Attention To Safety And Legislation Awaiting Cuomo's Pen

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The 30-year-old man who died trying to get off a Manhattan elevator on Thursday was laid to rest Sunday in his home state of Wisconsin.

The tragedy is bringing renewed attention to elevator safety and raising questions about who gets to make elevator repairs, CBS2's Lisa Rozner reported.

As the city's Department of Buildings investigates what caused last week's deadly elevator incident in Kips Bay, there's a renewed push for Cuomo to sign legislation that supporters say would make elevators safer statewide. Currently, there is no government-regulated training requirements for mechanics who work on the state's elevators, but a bill sponsored by Sen. Diane Savino would change that.

A man was killed when an elevator suddenly malfunctioned this morning in Manhattan. (Credit: FDNY)

"We have no idea who's working on them. We have no idea what level of training they've had and we have no idea how safe those operations are," Savino said. "You can't cut hair in New York state without a license. It is somewhat absurd that you can't fix elevators and work on other people movers without having a license."

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Savino said the legislation has been in the works for nearly a decade and already 36 states plus the District of Columbia require mechanics to be licensed.

New York has more elevators than Los Angeles and Chicago combined, and the city said there are more than 70,000 passenger elevators, accounting for billions of trips per year.

The bill passed in June and elevator mechanic of 30 years Michael Halpin helped craft it.

"There are some horrific, horrific incidents and largely at the hands of maintenance contractors who do not participate in the education and training programs," Halpin said. "It would require 144 hours per year for four years plus on-the-job training.

That includes an apprenticeship program, and classes. The funding for the licensing and enforcement, he said, would come, in part, from the fee one must pay to get a license.

"So when you walk into a building, if a building owner, a tenant, a building superintendent has a concern they can actually ask you to produce your paper and then you're verified," Halpin said.

Cuomo's office told CBS2 the legislation is under legal review and hasn't been sent to his office yet. Meanwhile, the city says elevators are the safest form of travel in New York, due to the city's stringent inspection and safety requirements.

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