NYC buildings official challenges construction stakeholders to strengthen safety
New York — Constadino “Gus” Sirakis is urging engineers, architects, contractors and property owners to help make New York City safer.
“I challenge you to have fewer construction incidents in 2022, and I challenge you to have fewer construction fatalities,” the then-acting commissioner of the New York City Department of Buildings told a virtual audience May 2 during his opening address of the department’s five-day Spring Digital Build 2022: Safety, Innovation & Sustainability Conference. “If done, each one of us will make New York City an even better place to live, work and build.”
DOB oversees around 40,000 active construction sites across the city’s five boroughs. Sirakis said the city needs the assistance of all stakeholders to make those sites safe.
“Yes, we’re the industry’s regulator,” Sirakis said, “but we share an important goal with property owners, engineers, architects and contractors: to build New York City quickly and safely.”
The free event, which coincides with OSHA’s National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction, features DOB safety expert-led sessions on various topics as well as upcoming building code changes set to go into effect later this year.
Sharing highlights from DOB’s second annual “NYC Construction Safety Report,” released March 28, DOB Deputy Commissioner Timothy E. Hogan noted that falls among workers is “by far our biggest issue.” As of April 30, the city had recorded four construction worker deaths and one critical injury.
“All of these events were falls,” he said. “We regularly stress tying off, and unfortunately it’s [met with] deaf ears in many situations. It’s very important that you enforce tying off with all workers.”
Hogan noted that several upcoming DOB code changes will affect worksites, including one set to go into effect in November that requires a construction superintendent on all major building projects (10 or more stories) to have a full-time alternate. In addition, all major building projects will be required to have a full-time construction superintendent, along with a safety professional, onsite, effective Nov. 7.
With regard to stop-work orders, Hogan said DOB’s construction safety compliance unit has issued 7,600 since September 2018. Of that total, 62% were the result of missing required documents.
To avoid an automatic stop-work order for missing construction plans, site safety plans and logs, Hogan provided a checklist that includes the following questions:
- Do you have approved and stamped plans for what you’re building on the site?
- Does your staff know where the plans are?
- Are the plans current, accessible and readable?