A New York City Department of Buildings safety sweep this month resulted in 3,600 violations and 1,499 stop work orders issued to construction contractors. According to a report by Construction Dive, the sweeps were launched because of a spate of construction site fatalities in the city, with seven workers dying in the first five months of 2021—two from falls, as the report notes.
As the DOB noted in a press release, the enforcement campaign began in June. City inspectors visited a total of 7,443 job sites: 1,645 in Manhattan; 722 in the Bronx; 2,757 in Brooklyn; 1,929 in Queens; and 390 in Staten Island. Of the sites visited, 2,814 were new building projects, 436 were demolitions, and 4,193 were alterations. The DOB touted five construction safety bills currently under consideration by New York City legislators. If passed, the bills 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 dangerous use of stand-off brackets for suspended scaffold work.”
Construction Dive observed in its analysis of the safety sweeps that construction sites nationwide have an issue with deadly falls, with 401 of 1,102 job site deaths in 2019 caused by falls. In New York City specifically, falls have resulted in 37 deaths since 2015, as well as 1,029 injuries. The DOB action involved the distribution of “safety cards” featuring safety reminders about wearing harnesses, staying vigilant about fall hazards, and the installing “guardrails or hole coverings.”
In a statement about the safety sweep, DOB Commissioner Melanie E. La Rocca said, “DOB enforcement is of critical importance in promoting safety at construction sites; but 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.”