Is the Department of Public Safety Unsafe?

Well over half the safety inspectors for elevators and escalators in the Commonwealth had been disciplined for performance issues. Why is a systemic failure of a crucial safety watchdog a one-day story?

There have been questions raised in the past about the staffing levels and performance at the Department of Public Safety. Several years ago, an Auditor’s report found that 30% of elevators in the state had expired inspection stickers. But the recent death of a child at a mall due to an accident on an escalator, has resulted in increased scrutiny of the department. Now, after a review of escalators across the state, there comes news that the two inspectors who certified that mall escalator are to be fired, six will be suspended for five days, and 26 will be reprimanded.

Depending on whose numbers you believe, there are either 51 or 57 inspectors in the department. That means that between 60% and 67% of the department’s inspectors are being disciplined around the fundamental issue of inspection quality.

That strikes me as systemic problem, not a handful of isolated mistakes. Is it time to examine other models to ensure that vital public conveniences like elevators and escalators are properly inspected in a thorough, timely manner?