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New Enforcement Sweeps and Increased Penalties Announced for Safety Hazards at Construction Projects

February 19, 2016

In the wake of recent safety incidents at construction sites throughout the City during a record building boom, Mayor deBlasio and Department of Buildings (DOB) Commissioner Rick Chandler have announced a major code enforcement sweep of construction sites over the next 90 days and increased penalties for serious construction-safety lapses.

The DOB expects to sweep 1,500 job sites in the next 90 days and plans to hire 100 new enforcement inspectors by this summer. Inspectors will be looking for failures to use proper safety equipment, install guardrails or remedy trip hazards, as well as other potential code violations. Sweeps are initially focusing on contractors with poor safety records who are performing work on buildings under 10 stories. Such sites have been found to be the source of a disproportionate number of accidents. In addition, the DOB will sweep all construction sites over 15 stories.

As of July, construction superintendents will be required for all major construction projects at buildings under 10 stories - and not simply, as is the case now, for new construction. Superintendents will now be required to review sites daily and log all required safety information. Failure to comply with these requirements will result in the issuance of stop-work orders as well as the assessment of penalties ranging from $5,000 to $25,000.

Fines assessed for serious failures to safeguard construction sites will increase from $2,400 to $10,000 per violation and the penalty for lacking a construction superintendent will increase from $5,000 to a maximum of $25,000 (the highest fine amount per violation assessed at the City's administrative code enforcement tribunal, the Environmental Control Board). Multiple violations are routinely issued following an incident at a construction site, so the total amount of fines assessed can escalate rapidly. In addition, the DOB intends to seek to suspend or revoke the licenses or registrations of Site Safety Managers, Site Safety Coordinators, Construction Superintendents and others responsible for unsafe construction practices.

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