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Posted by on January 11, 2022

The results of the New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) ‘Zero Tolerance’ campaign presented to the public this past September has revealed some troubling numbers. This three-month long series of safety enforcement sweeps conducted at construction sites throughout New York City was set in motion to identify hazardous conditions at construction sites that posed a significant risk to workers. According to DOB Commissioner Melanie E. La Rocca, nearly 3700 violations were issued by New York City Dept. building inspectors. 

NYC’s Construction Violations by the Number

Launched June 1, ‘Zero Tolerance’ was established with the goal of enhancing accountability on construction job sites and reducing the number of construction-related injuries and death. During the sweep, DOB inspectors toured nearly 7500 sites throughout New York City, including Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, Staten Island, and The Bronx. 

Data garnered from the DOB ‘Zero Tolerance’ campaign showed the citywide safety sweep yielded just under 1,500 stop-work orders for safety conditions that put workers and the public at risk of injury. In addition, the inspection of 7,443 construction sites netted a total of 3,666 violations found in new building, demolition and alteration sites. Further findings revealed that the majority of injuries were the result of workers falling from high elevations due to improper harnessing and lack of other safeguards. 

While statistics showed that all New York City boroughs were hit with numerous violations, Brooklyn led the way with just over 1250 violations. As for work-stop orders, Manhattan racked up the greatest number with 545, followed by Brooklyn (425), Queens (339), The Bronx (144), and Staten Island (46). Once contractors were able to correct the dangerous conditions and the site was able to pass a follow-up visit from building inspectors, many of the shutdowns were called off and work was able to resume. 

“DOB enforcement is of critical importance in promoting safety at construction sites, but the reality is we can’t be in all places at all times,” said La Rocca. “To protect the lives of the working men and women who are building this 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.”

The preliminary phase of the ‘Zero Tolerance’ campaign may now be in the books, but the procedures and policies implemented to improve workplace safety on all constructions sites in New York City will continue to be enforced moving forward. According to a Sept. 13 press release, the DOB indicated it will carry on with its program of regular, unannounced inspections at the biggest construction sites throughout the city. Furthermore, the department will continue to intervene at those sites identified as having the most blatant safety infractions during the initial sweep. 

In addition, the DOB will venture ahead to execute new construction safety legislation, including a handful of new construction safety bills specifically developed to promote greater worksite safety. These new bills would help continue to bring down the number of construction site injuries by licensing general contractors who perform construction work, and requiring increased safety supervision at larger construction sites that pose the greatest dangers to workers. Other proposals include strengthening requirements for cold-formed steel construction work, and effectively barring the use of treacherous stand-off brackets for suspended scaffold work.

These safety requirements along with some newly introduced NYC construction code revisions create the ultimate 1-2 punch to dramatically lessen the health hazards associated with construction site work. “Life-changing injury or worse should not be the price of an honest day’s work. We are joining our colleagues in the Council to introduce bills that will help protect our fellow New Yorkers on construction sites citywide,” said La Rocca. “At the same time, by working with industry experts and stakeholders, our updated codes will make our built environment safer for everyone living and working in our great city. These critical pieces of legislation will help us continue building a safer and fairer New York City for all.”

Every construction worker has the right to a safe work environment. By enforcing these new safety bills, and holding negligent parties accountable for unsafe conditions that place workers at undue risk of injury, construction workers can finally receive the protections they deserve. 


Posted in: Construction