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For Immediate Release
January 24, 2008


12 of the 13 Scaffold Worker Safety Task Force Recommendations Implemented

Buildings Commissioner Patricia J. Lancaster, FAIA, today provided a progress report on the City's strategic plan to protect workers on scaffolds. Adopted by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in February 2007, the plan outlines measures based upon the Task Force's 13 recommendations to ensure the safety of scaffold workers and the public. While delivering the progress report to the Task Force at its quarterly meeting, the Buildings Department announced that 12 of the 13 recommendations have been implemented. The progress report was delivered today following an outreach event at a Bronx worker center where Commissioner Lancaster joined Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Guillermo Linares, Compliance Assistance Specialist Beatriz Cabrera-Wich of the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and Executive Director of the Latin American Workers' Project Oscar Paredes to speak with workers about steps they can take to stay safe on the job.

“Scaffold safety continues to be a focus of the Buildings Department. I am pleased to report that our hard work is starting to pay off. Suspended scaffold-related accidents on construction sites decreased by 40% over the last year, from 10 in 2006 to 6 in 2007. With the proper protocols in place, we can demand that contractors and riggers provide a safe working environment for those who are building and maintaining our city,” said Commissioner Lancaster. “Today's progress report reflects steps we have taken to achieve this goal and implement the recommendations of the Scaffold Safety Task Force.”

“The progress to date demonstrates OSHA's firm commitment to scaffold worker safety, and we will continue our cooperation with the Buildings Department and other agencies involved in the Task Force to achieve that end,” said Richard Mendelson, OSHA's Manhattan Area Director.

Since May 2007, when an initial progress report was delivered, the Buildings Department, OSHA and the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs have worked together to implement 12 of the 13 recommendations from the City's strategic plan to improve scaffold safety. Some of the recommendations implemented include:

  • Buildings Scaffold Safety Team created and 100% staffed;
  • Joint inspections conducted by Buildings and OSHA;
  • Cross-training held for Buildings inspectors by OSHA compliance officers;
  • Information sharing between OSHA and Buildings formalized with an alliance and regular meetings;
  • Legislation increasing and adding new penalties for scaffold safety violations enacted.

The Scaffold Worker Safety Task Force, convened in November 2006 after a series of scaffold-related incidents, found speaking English as a second language or speaking a language different than that spoken at the job site was a factor in fatal construction accidents. The Task Force recommended the City and OSHA continue their partnership with immigrant advocacy groups to expand outreach efforts in the interest of public and worker safety.

Today's outreach to workers was the fourth event in a series of outreach visits officials will make to worker centers in the five boroughs. In November 2006, City officials joined community advocates in Jackson Heights, Queens to distribute safety flyers; in May 2007, officials spoke to day laborers about safe scaffold practices in Bensonhurst Park, Brooklyn; and in August 2007, officials and non-profit representatives visited a worker center in the Port Richmond section of Staten Island to advise workers on steps to stay safe on the job site.

To learn more about construction safety regulations and worker training requirements, view the Progress Report (PDF) on implementation of the Scaffold Task Force’s Report (PDF).

New Yorkers are encouraged to call 3-1-1 to report non-compliant conditions or 9-1-1 to report emergencies at construction sites.

Contact:     Kate Lindquist/Carly Sullivan (212) 566-3473

The original release issued on January 24, 2008 erroneously stated suspended scaffold-related accidents on construction sites decreased by 52% over the last year, from 25 in 2006 to 12 in 2007. The press release was amended on February 19, 2008 to correct the erroneous numbers. The correction is reflected in the text above.