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For Immediate Release
April 29, 2014


Over 100 Construction Sites Targeted in the Second Phase of Operation: Low Rise

Follow-Up Safety Inspections Show an Increase in Compliance

Safety Summit at Marriott Downtown Kicks Off Tenth Annual Construction Safety Week

Buildings Acting Commissioner Thomas Fariello today kicked off the Department’s tenth annual Construction Safety Week with the 2014 Build Safe | Live Safe Conference at the New York Marriott Downtown in Lower Manhattan. More than 400 construction professionals and government regulators attended the daylong conference where the Department announced the results of the second phase of Operation: Low Rise, an ongoing enforcement effort by the Department aimed at increasing site safety at low rise construction projects throughout New York City. Using last year’s worst performers as a starting point, inspectors visited 129 job sites and found that compliance had improved when compared to the previous year. The majority of last year’s worst performers – 66 percent – were found to be in full compliance when inspectors revisited their sites during the follow-up sweep. As a part of the multi-lingual safety campaign, Experience Is Not Enough, the Department has distributed educational flyers at hundreds of construction sites to encourage workers to take proper precautions on the job site. In 2013, there were 3 fatal construction-related accidents compared to 8 in 2012. All three occurred at low rise construction sites; buildings under construction that will be nine stories and less.

Acting Commisioner Fariello delivered the keynote address at the safety summit, focusing on how the Department and the construction industry must work together to prevent accidents and save lives.

“The significant decrease in construction-related fatalities last year shows that enforcement combined with outreach to the industry has helped improve construction safety,” Acting Commissioner Fariello said. “This is encouraging and it happened during a year when there was an increase in the number of new building permits issued, which means more construction jobs across our city. However, so far in 2014, there have been three construction-related fatalities all due to inadequate or lack of fall protection at the job site. Every one of these tragic accidents could have been prevented. Sharing information saves lives and that’s why we are here today: to raise the standard for our industry – together.”

As part of the second phase of Operation: Low Rise, the Department conducted detailed follow-up inspections at 129 active new building sites to specifically target those who performed the worst during last year’s sweep. Our inspectors found that compliance improved between the first and second enforcement sweeps, even at sites that had performed poorly in the past. For this riskiest subset of sites, 66 percent – or 85 of the 129 sites – were found to be in full compliance and no violation was warranted; compared to 55 percent of sites during the first sweep. As a result of the sweep, inspectors issued over 100 Environment Control Board (ECB) violations and 12 partial Stop Work Orders and 14 full Stop Work Orders where conditions presented an imminent threat or work had not been approved by the Department. The most common conditions that resulted in violations included:

  • Work without permit;
  • Failure to safeguard;
  • Guardrails missing/inadequate;
  • Handrails missing/inadequate;
  • Work does not conform to plans;
  • Failure to provide protection for adjoining buildings; and
  • Fire extinguisher missing.

During the sweep, inspectors focused on enforcing against unprotected openings and improper c-joist (lightweight steel) construction. The Department’s educational flyers, which are translated into Spanish and Russian, also address these conditions and outline what workers should do when working near shaft ways and installing lightweight steel at a construction site. Last year, construction-related accidents in New York City rose slightly from 176 in 2012 to 186 in 2013, and 33 percent of those accidents were due to a worker falling.

At the 2014 Build Safe | Live Safe Conference, Department experts held eight seminars on new construction practices and regulations, all of which can be applied toward continuing education credits for licensed industry professionals. At the safety summit, Department officials also staffed 10 informational booths on ongoing initiatives designed to improve the construction experience for all New Yorkers – from the latest on the Department’s NYC Development Hub to resolving outstanding violations on a construction site. The topics of the eight seminars were as follows:

  • The Year in NYC Construction Safety
  • Matching Existing Buildings to Earlier Codes
  • 2014 Construction Codes Overview
  • Elevator and Hoist Safety under the 2014 Codes
  • Sidewalk Sheds, Supported Scaffolds and Fences: Hub Self-Service + 2014 Code
  • Crane Safety: Electric Cranes and Aging Cranes
  • Engineering Temporary Structures and the 2014 Building Code
  • Site Excavations and Underpinning

Construction Safety Week is an annual series of events and outreach programs aimed at raising awareness about construction safety. Other events during the week include an extended Homeowner’s Night in each of the Department’s borough offices and the distribution of safety flyers and bracelets as part of the Experience Is Not Enough campaign, which emphasizes the importance of safe construction practices, such as the use of safety harnesses, guardrails and netting, despite a worker’s years of experience.

Contact: Kelly Magee (212) 393-2126
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