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NYC's Massive Safety Sweep

The city has shut down over 300 construction sites for safety violations in the last month

Kris LaGrange's picture
Jun 28, 2021

Following three tragic deaths on New York City construction sites last month, the City’s building department has taken part in a month-long sweep to ensure that construction is being done the right way and safely.

According to the NY Daily News, the sweep has led to more than 322 sites being shuttered during the massive zero-tolerance safety sweep. More than a third of these violations were found in Brooklyn.

The sweep came after seven people have died in construction-related accidents so far this year, with three deaths occurring in May. Last year, only eight people died in construction accidents and in 2018 and 2019 only 12 people died each year. With 2021 only half over, both of the numbers could be eclipsed if more of an emphasis on safety is not made, which would end a three-year trend of flat or decreasing deaths among construction workers.

113 stop-work orders were issued in Brooklyn, 83 were given in Manhattan, followed by 69 in Queens and 54 in the Bronx. Only three were given out in the more suburban Staten Island. Violations that led to a job site being shut down included inspectors seeing workers not wearing harnesses, contractors not following their safety plans, or no “controlled access zones” or guard rails being found. The building department told the Daily News that without these safety measures workers could fall and die. Two of the three May deaths came from workers falling. According to the CDC, falls are the leading cause of workplace deaths in the United States accounting for more than one in three workplace fatalities. Stop-work orders were also issued at larger sites if a safety professional, classified as a person with 62 hours of training, was not on hand. The city requires sites that are 10 stories or higher to always have a safety professional on-site while work is being done to ensure that the work is being done safely.

The building department says that in June they have conducted 2,100 inspections and issued 1,129 violations for safety issues and code non-compliance issues at these work sites.

Along with the recent increase in enforcement in June, the .ity is releasing a report on Monday about construction safety in 2019 and 2020.

"Construction deaths are not acceptable. In order to prevent avoidable fatalities, we need better information about construction sites and we need to learn from our mistakes that put workers at risk. This new report does just that," City Council Member and Chair of the Committee on Housing and Buildings Robert E. Cornegy, Jr. said.

The announcement of the crackdown comes just days after the deadly collapse of a large condominium complex in Florida. The collapse killed at least 10 with more than 150 people still missing and presumed dead. Reports have come out that the building may have had significant structural damage. In a structural field service report done on the building in 2018, engineers pointed out evidence of flooding, cracking, and corrosion in the building.

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