City safety inspectors shut down construction at nearly 1,5000 building sites during a three-month long safety sweep this summer.
The campaign was part of the Department of Building’s Zero Tolerance construction safety enforcement that saw inspectors sweeping construction sites across the five boroughs in order to ensure that proper safeguards were in place to prevent worker falls or site injuries.
In the three months from June 1, 2021, DOB inspectors conducted sweeps at 7,500 building sites in all five boroughs, issued over 3,600 violations to contractors and site safety professionals for their failure to keep their work sites safe, and issued 1,499 Stop Work Orders across the city.
Many of the Stop Work Orders have since been rescinded, after the contractor corrected the unsafe conditions, and a follow-up DOB inspection determined that work was safe to continue.
The campaign came after seven building construction-related fatalities in New York City in 2021, all occurring in the first five months of the year. There were no fatalities in the city during the safety sweep.
At a City Council hearing today, members were expected to vote on a construction safety bill package that includes a contractor licensing bill. Right now, you need a license in New York to cut hair as a barber, but you don’t need one to construct a tower. This bill would change that.
Commissioner Melanie La Rocca the new legislation would create a licensing requirement for general contractors who perform construction work, require more site safety supervision at larger work sites, strengthen requirements for cold-formed steel construction, and permanently ban the use of stand-off brackets for suspended scaffold work.
She said the Zero Tolerance site sweeps were a major part of promoting safety at construction, but added, “The reality is that we cannot be in all places at all times.
“To protect the lives of the working men and women who are building in our city, we need our partners in the construction industry to step up and join us in pushing for enhanced round-the-clock supervision and greater accountability.”
Gary LaBarbera, president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, said, “While efforts have been made in recent years to improve and enhance the safety of construction sites, much more stands to be accomplished, particularly on non-union worksites, to ensure the safety of all construction workers.
“We’re grateful that the Department of Buildings has prioritized construction safety, and we look forward to continuing to work with their team to ensure all worksites have the rigorous training and safety protocols in place to protect the wellbeing of workers.”
Associated Builders and Contractors, Construction Safety Advisory Committee of New York (CSAC) and the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health are also backing the city’s efforts to improve overall safety in the industry.