David Lopez

David Lopez visits the state Capitol in Austin on Wednesday, March 6.

 

AUSTIN – More than five years ago David Lopez, an elevator mechanic from Waxahachie, lost a good friend in an elevator repair accident. Wednesday, he visited the state Capitol in Austin to advocate for House Bill 2466, which would improve workplace and consumer safety by creating a registration of trained and qualified elevator mechanics.

Lopez is with the International Union of Elevator Constructors Local No. 21, representing hundreds of professional elevator mechanics across North Texas and Central Texas. At the Capitol, he was among a group of nearly two dozen electricians, plumbers and mechanics with the Texas Building and Construction Trades Council, who were visiting with lawmakers to discuss policies that protect and benefit skilled workers.

In particular, Lopez visited with the office of state Rep. John Wray (R-Waxahachie).

“I’m a second-generation elevator constructor in this industry and I’m down here working on House Bill 2466 because it would create a registration of elevator mechanics,” Lopez said. “This is an important bill because it not only improves safety of the elevator constructors, but also improves public safety.

“When it comes to worker safety, elevator mechanics average one death every 90 days around the country,” he said. “We’re hoping House Bill 2466 will require the contractors to provide proper education, apprenticeship programs and continuing education to maximize the safety of the public and the elevator constructors.”

Lopez explained how dangerous it is to be an elevator mechanic, noting that he had a friend who was killed on the job.

“I had a good friend of mine pass away over five years ago,” Lopez said. “He was one of the safest guys but, in a moment of not really being familiar with his surrounding, he was struck by a situation and lost his life. He was just listening for a sound on an elevator and was killed on the job. It’s a dangerous trade and my hope is that House Bill 2466 will ensure that everybody is qualified to be doing the work they’re doing on elevators.”

House Bill 2466 would set minimum requirements in Texas to be registered as an elevator mechanic and require continuing education for all elevator mechanics, among other safety measures. The International Union of Elevator Constructors has made this a priority due to the increased amount of companies operating without property trained elevator constructors.

For example, while the International Union of Elevator Constructors ensures safety by requiring mechanics to complete a five-year Department of Labor registered apprenticeship program and take an exam, Lopez explained how one company just expected a worker to follow instructions from a book while repairing an elevator.

“My father, who is in the trade, had an apprentice who was previously at a nonunion shop,” Lopez said. “During that time, he was working six months in the trade. He was given a book from Barnes and Noble and told to read it and go out and troubleshoot and repair elevators on his own.

“There’s no way that anybody in that position has enough knowledge to be working on their own and doing a good enough job to ensure the safety of the people around them and the riding public,” Lopez said.

The bill was introduced Feb. 26 by state Rep. Ana Hernandez (D-Houston). Track the bill online at https://capitol.texas.gov/Home.aspx.

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