FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 18, 2008
MAYOR BLOOMBERG AND ACTING BUILDINGS COMMISSIONER LIMANDRI ANNOUNCE BUILDINGS DEPARTMENT TO HIRE NEW INSPECTORS TO ADVANCE CONSTRUCTION SAFETY OVERSIGHT AND ENFORCEMENT
$5.3 Million Added to the Department’s Budget to Fund 63 New Positions for Phase Three of Special Enforcement Plan and General Contractor Registration
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Acting Department of Buildings (DOB) Commissioner Robert D. LiMandri today announced that $5.3 million has been added to the Department of Buildings budget to fund 63 new positions to enhance oversight and enforcement of construction safety. The additional resources are part of the Mayor's FY2009 Executive Budget. Fifty-six of those positions will allow DOB to implement phase three of its Special Enforcement Plan (SEP) announced in July 2007 and will enable the Department to launch three new SEP initiatives: the construction monitoring program; the violation re-inspection team; and the sidewalk shed electrical safety team. The funding also adds seven positions to enable DOB to implement Local Law 36 of 2008, which requires general contractors who build one-, two-, and three-family homes to register with the Department so that their safety record can be tracked and unsafe contractors can be held accountable for violations and, if necessary, suspended or prohibited from doing business. The $5.3 million investment brings the total number of Buildings Inspectors to 461, up from 277 in 2002. Today's announcement follows a $4 million commitment announced two weeks ago to perform a comprehensive analysis of high-risk construction activities.
"The Buildings Department has a critical responsibility to protect the public from construction hazards and to protect the lives and guard the safety of the City's more than 125,000 construction workers," said Mayor Bloomberg. "Today, we are furthering this mission by investing resources in making sure that the City's diverse and talented construction industry takes responsibility for worker and public safety at construction sites throughout the five boroughs-from high-rise construction to single-family homes. We are in the midst of a historic building boom and the added development demands that we devote sufficient resources to aggressively enforce site safety."
"The allocation of this funding is welcome news," said Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. "The Council has long believed that there is no more sure-fire way to increase safety around construction sites than putting more well-trained inspectors in the field. By giving the agency added ability to perform unannounced inspections, we will raise the bar at job sites across the city and increase the safety of thousands construction workers."
"With development projects on practically every street corner, we have to give the Department of Buildings the tools it needs to make the construction industry as safe as possible," said Housing and Buildings Chair Erik Martin Dilan. "By adding 63 new positions, we will give DOB the flexibility to examine more projects, both large and small. This additional funding is welcome news, and will hopefully improve the Agency's enforcement capability."
Expansion of the Special Enforcement Plan to Improve Construction Safety
The Department of Buildings will hire 56 additional inspectors and administrators to launch Phase Three of the Special Enforcement Plan. The Special Enforcement Plan, which was launched in July 2007, is a multi-phase initiative to increase the Department's presence on construction job sites, increase audits and unannounced inspections, and tighten oversight over the professional certification program. Today's investment brings the total number of staff dedicated to the SEP to 144. As part of today's expansion, 56 new employees will be deployed to implement new SEP initiatives and to expand programs that have been launched since the SEP was first announced last year.
Registering General Contractors to Hold Them Accountable to Their Safety Records
In addition to expanding the Special Enforcement Plan, the Mayor's $5.3 million investment will provide the Buildings Department with the necessary staff to implement Local Law 36, recently enacted to register general contractors building one-, two-, and three-family homes. Today's investment allocates seven new staff lines to implement the new mandate, which was signed into law by Mayor Bloomberg on August 2, 2007. This registration requirement enables the Buildings Department to track these general contractors by their safety record and hold them accountable for their performance across job sites. The seven new staff lines will screen applicants, perform field inspections, investigate complaints of un-registered companies, and build cases against repeat offenders. General contractors seeking permits to erect one-, two-, or three-family homes must register with the Buildings Department by October 31, 2008. Unregistered individuals or entities found building one-, two- or three-family homes after October 31, 2008 will be subject to violations, Stop Work Orders, criminal charges, and the seizure of vehicles and construction tools.
The Special Enforcement Plan is the result of a collaborative effort by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Housing and Buildings Chair Erik Martin Dilan, City Councilman James Oddo, and the Buildings Department to build upon agency reforms established over the past six years. Under the first two phases of the plan, the City has dedicated $7 million to the Buildings Department for 88 additional staff lines to create six new multidisciplinary enforcement units and one research group: the Special Enforcement Team; the Excavations Team; the Professional Review and Audits Team; the After-Hours Inspection Team; the Interior Demolitions Team; the Low-Rise Site Safety Team; and the Professional Certification Qualifications Group. Since the Plan's inception, these new units have inspected over 3,800 construction sites, identified approximately 85 individuals or companies for possible disciplinary action, and reviewed over 1,700 professionally-certified plans for compliance with the Building Code and Zoning Resolution. Since September 2007, these teams have issued over 1,000 Stop Work Orders and nearly 3,000 violations to sites in all five boroughs. Today's announcement brings the City's total investment in the Buildings Department's Special Enforcement Plan to $12 million for 144 dedicated staff members for nine new programs.
New Yorkers are encouraged to call 3-1-1 to report non-compliant conditions or 9-1-1 to report emergencies at construction sites.
Stu Loeser / John Gallagher (212) 788-2958
Kate Lindquist / Caroline Sullivan (Department of Buildings)