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Safety sweeps follow wave of construction worker deaths

New York City has experienced a recent number of construction worker fatalities. To reverse this preventable trend of construction site accidents, the New York City of Department of Buildings Commissioner mobilized enforcement inspector teams to engage in safety sweeps of the City’s larger and more complex sites.

Recent accidents

In late May, three construction workers were killed in separate construction-related incidents. Worker falls caused two of these deaths. The three accidents are being investigated.

Zero-tolerance sweeps

Department of Building inspectors will perform zero tolerance inspections and issue enforcement actions for any safety violations they uncover. During these inspections, DOB inspectors will:

  • Ensure that permitted construction projects fully conform with their required safety plans.
  • Confirm that contractors and safety professionals stringently comply with the City’s construction safety regulations.
  • Determine that on-site worker are effectively using safety harnesses and fall arrest systems that are required for the work.
  • Distribute worker alert information on preventing falls and send direct mailers to all permit workers engaged in roof work.

Contractors may be fined up to $25,000 per violation for each safety violation. Inspectors will shut down sites if there are any serious safety lapses.

Other safety measures

In May, five new construction safety bills were introduced in the New York city council. These measures are intended to improve oversight and accountability on city construction sites. The bills will take effect one year after enactment and would:

  • License general contractors performing construction work. DOB will be empowered to revoke or suspend these licenses or impose other discipline.
  • Increase site safety supervision at larger construction sites.
  • Prevent overloading and improper installation of cold-fremd steel. This led to injuries, deaths, and property damage at construction sites in the city.
  • Enacting a permanent ban on the unsafe use of stand-off brackets for C-hook suspended scaffold work.

The DOB also said that it took other measures that reduced construction injuries by 34 percent from 2018 to 2020. It increased penalties for more severe safety violations, hired hundreds more inspectors, implemented an innovative safety training program for the New York City construction workforce and increased the number of unannounced safety inspections of large construction sites across the city.

Construction site accidents can cause serious injuries and deaths. As these measures indicate, the risk of these accidents persists. An attorney can assist accident victims and their families seek compensation if these accidents are caused by violations of regulations or negligence.