NYC Construction Deaths Yield No-Tolerance Sweeps

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New York City’s Department of Buildings has executed “zero-tolerance sweeps” of the city’s construction sites.

New York City building inspectors are implementing “zero-tolerance sweeps”  in the city’s job sites, according to a recent report by Construction Dive. The sweeps are in response to “three worker deaths in recent weeks, two of which were the result of falls,” according to the report, and have resulted in 322 sites shut down due to hazardous conditions.

The New York City Department of Buildings has sent inspectors to “more than 2,100 of the city’s larger and more complex building construction sites,” according to Construction Dive, issuing 322 full or partial stop orders, as well as 1,129 “violations for safety issues and non-compliance issues.” The President of the New York chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America told Construction Dive that stop-work orders “are hard to argue with,” though they have significant costs for construction project.

Construction Dive also describes a report released last month by the Department of Buildings which showed a decline in job site injuries and fatalities in 2019 and 2020: in 2019, there were 595 injuries and 12 fatalities, while in 2020 there were 502 injuries and eight fatalities. According to ABC News, New York City Council member Robert E. Cornegy Jr. said of the report: “Construction deaths are not acceptable. In order to prevent avoidable fatalities, we need better information about construction sites and we need to learn from our mistakes that put workers at risk. This new report does just that.” Cornegy Jr. is the Chair of the City Council’s Committee on Housing and Buildings.

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The uptick of zero-tolerance sweeps are in response to construction injuries and deaths in New York City.

The DOB report also shows a decline in “construction-related incidents” from 2018 to 2019. In 2019, 25% of incidents were related to worker falls. This represents the second most common type of incident, with the largest share, 41%, consisting of “other construction-related” incidents, a category that includes “various situations ranging from tripping incidents, injuries related to hand tools, orthopedic injuries and electrical shocks.”

As ABC News notes, this month New York’s city council is set to “debate five bills that seek to increase safety including by making it a law that all general contractors be licensed.”

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