La Rocca orders citywide safety sweep after three construction workers die

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The Department of Building is set to carry out a sweep of
the city’s biggest construction sites after three workers were killed on the
job in the past two weeks.

“The recent spate of construction worker deaths in our
city is tragic, senseless – and even worse, entirely avoidable,” said
Commissioner Melanie La Rocca. “Department inspectors have been directed to
sweep work sites around the city, and unsafe conditions will be met with zero
tolerance. The death of even one construction worker is wholly unacceptable.”

In the last two weeks, three construction workers in New
York City lost their lives in separate work-related incidents. Two of these
fatal incidents were the result of worker falls. One worker fell to his death
from a scaffold at a building under construction in Queens while a second was
killed when he slipped off the roof at the Flatbush Bank Building in Brooklyn,
which is being converted to a mixed-use property. A third worker was killed and
his colleague injured when the elevator they were in plummeted through the
shafts of a Bronx building where they were part of a renovation team.

Commissioner La Rocca said she has mobilized teams of DOB
enforcement inspectors across the five boroughs to perform safety sweeps of the
city’s larger and more complex construction sites, to ensure that they are safe
for both workers and the public.

While performing these zero tolerance sweeps, DOB inspectors
will issue enforcement actions if they observe any safety violations and will
shut down sites if they find serious safety lapses. Inspectors and community
engagement teams will also be distributing “Worker Alert” safety
information at construction sites on the dangers of worker falls.

 During the sweep, DOB
inspectors will be conducting site visits at thousands of construction work
sites in neighborhoods across the city. Contractors who are found to be putting
their workers at risk by flouting safety regulations could face penalties of up
to $25,000 for each construction safety violation.

At each work site, the DOB will specifically be:

Ensuring that permitted construction projects are in full
compliance with their required site safety plans.

Confirming that contractors and safety professionals are
closely adhering to New York City’s robust construction safety regulations.

Checking that workers on site are properly using safety
harnesses and fall arrest systems where required.

Distributing “Worker Alert” safety information on
how to prevent worker falls and sending direct mailers to all permit holders
performing roof work.

 Last month, the
Department announced that five new construction safety bills we support were
introduced for consideration in the New York City Council. If adopted, these
consequential bills would greatly enhance oversight and accountability on
construction sites in our city by licensing general contractors who perform construction
work, requiring more site safety supervision at larger work sites,
strengthening requirements for cold-formed steel construction, and permanently
banning the dangerous use of stand-off brackets for suspended scaffold work.

This construction safety legislation package builds upon on
the work already done at DOB to increase safety on the city’s construction
sites in recent years, including increasing penalties for the most serious
safety violations, adding hundreds of 
additional inspectors to our ranks, fully implementing a
first-of-its-kind safety training program for the city’s construction
workforce, and increasing the frequency of unannounced construction safety
inspections of large work sites across the city.

These construction safety efforts spearheaded by DOB led to
a 34 percent decrease in injuries on building construction sites in New York
City from 2018 to 2020.

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