David Lopez lost a good friend in an elevator accident over five years ago. Now he’s visiting the State Capitol to advocate for legislation that would help protect other repair workers, and potentially, save lives.
“He was one of the safest guys,” Lopez recalled. “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.”
Lopez is a second-generation elevator constructor from Waxahachie that represents hundred of North and Central Texas mechanics through the International Union of Elevator Constructors Local # 21. On Wednesday, Mar. 6, he went before the Texas Building and Construction Trades Council with nearly two dozen electricians, plumbers and mechanics to discuss policies to protect and benefit skilled workers.
One legislation Lopez advocated for in particular was House Bill 2466. According to a news release, H.B. 2466 would improve workplace and consumer safety by creating a registration of trained and qualified elevator mechanics. Lopez spoke to several representatives regarding the bill – including State Representative John Wray in his own office.
“This is an important bill because it not only improves safety of the elevator constructors but also improves public safety,” Lopez stated. “When it comes to worker safety, elevator mechanics average one death every ninety days around the country. 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.”
According to the release, HB 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 the bill a priority due to the increased amount of companies operating without property trained elevator constructors.
“My father, who is in the trade, had an apprentice who was previously at a non-union shop,” Lopez recalled. “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 hopes the bill will encourage safe practices in the construction workplace – both for residents and workers themselves.
“My hope is that House Bill 2466 will ensure that everybody is qualified to be doing the work they’re doing on elevators,” Lopez stated.