New York City investigators issued a report this week confirming that a gruesome workplace accident on a Manhattan office building elevator might have been prevented. The December accident killed an advertising executive who had just stepped onto the elevator when it began rising with its doors still open.

The woman died when she was dragged up the elevator shaft while two people on the elevator already looked on in horror. The report found that safety precautions were ignored and that the elevator involved in the accident should have been taken out of service.

Apparently a mechanism that prevents the car from moving when the doors are open was disabled by a mechanic. Workers had been performing repairs on the elevators that day, but the Buildings Department, which performed the review, found that several safety requirements were overlooked or ignored.

The elevator repair company, which services more than 2,500 elevators in New York, was cited with 23 violations carrying minimum penalties of more than $100,000. The accident led to the building being closed for three weeks, and two of the elevators — including the one involved in the fatal accident — have yet to return to service.

Many workers in New York are leery of the city’s 60,000 elevators, but there are relatively few accidents reported each year: 53 in 2010 and 43 last year. After last year’s accident, the Buildings Department conducted a round of inspections, visiting more than 150 buildings. They issued 135 citations but none on par with what happened with the fatal accident.

Source: Newsday, “Report: Safety device was disabled on NYC elevator,” Jennifer Peltz, Feb. 27, 2012