New York City’s “zero tolerance” safety sweeps resulted in thousands of violations and nearly 1,500 stop work orders issued at construction sites across the five boroughs to prevent worker falls and other injuries.
City Buildings Commissioner Melanie E. La Rocca announced the results of the three-month sweep on Sept. 13, saying department inspectors visited about 7,500 building construction sites since the drive started June 1. Inspectors issued more than 3,600 violations to contractors and site safety professionals for failing to keep sites safe, according to La Rocca. They also issued 1,499 stop work orders at sites.
The sweep came after seven fatalities at New York City construction sites happened in the first five months of the year. The most recent death was that of a 49-year-old worker who fell from a retail bank project roof in Brooklyn on May 27, ENR previously reported.
Dept. of Buidings “"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,” La Rocca said in a statement. “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.”
Brooklyn had the most sites visited, with inspectors hitting 2,757 in the borough. However, the largest number of stop work orders were issued in Manhattan, where inspectors ordered stoppages at 545 of the 1,645 sites they visited.
While the sweep is over, department inspectors will continue making unannounced safety inspections at work sites as well as additional interventions at sites that “were found to have egregious site safety violations,” officials said.
The department efforts have had support from groups like the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York and the Associated Builders and Contractors, Empire State chapter.
“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,” said Gary LaBarbera, president of the trades council.
Deaths at city construction sites appear to be down in 2021 so far. A department report released earlier this year analyzed nearly 1,100 construction-related injuries in New York City between 2019 and 2020 that resulted in a combined 20 deaths.
The agency said it would also follow the sweep with renewed efforts to support construction safety legislation, including five bills introduced in City Council earlier this year. It said proposed laws would enhance oversight and accountability at construction sites, including new licensing requirements for general contractors, added site safety supervision, increased requirements for cold-formed steel construction and a ban of stand-off brackets for suspended scaffold work.
“By working with industry experts and stakeholders, our updated codes will make our built environment safety for everyone living and working in our great city,” La Rocca previously said.