DOB reports drop in NYC construction accidents
The Department of Buildings (DOB) announced today the release of a new building construction safety report that provides deep insights on construction safety trends in the five boroughs over the 2019 and 2020 calendar years and examines Department initiatives that led to declines in building construction-related incidents and injuries during that time.
The report provides a first-of-its-kind analysis of major building construction incidents in the past two years that led to fatal or near fatal outcomes, with details on contributing factors that precipitated these incidents.
The report also highlights proactive and data-driven initiatives undertaken by the Department, while bringing awareness to the work of critical Department units, changes in construction safety regulations, and recent efforts to modernize the agency.
The Department also released a progress update on ongoing enforcement inspections sweeps happening now at larger construction sites across the five boroughs, an initiative launched in response to recent construction fatalities that occurred earlier this year.
“Knowledge is power, and the analysis in this report can help the construction industry keep their workers safe from hazardous site conditions,” said Buildings Commissioner Melanie E. La Rocca. “We know that a data driven approach and strong enforcement protocols are necessary to keep all of our fellow New Yorkers safe. We simply cannot accept business as usual when workers and the public are put at unnecessary risk.”
The two-year report delves into Department data on enforcement actions, incidents, and inspections to provide a deeper look at the factors impacting construction safety in New York City. With an eye on preventing future incidents from occurring, the report puts forward a detailed analysis of the where, when, what, and how of construction-related fatalities and injuries taking place in the city.
In the 2019 calendar year, we saw:
- 595 construction-related injuries in New York City on building work sites, down over 21% from the 761 construction-related injuries in 2018;
- Twelve building construction-related fatalities, the same amount of fatalities that we saw in 2018.
In the 2020 calendar year, we saw:
- 502 construction-related injuries in New York City on building work sites, down over 15% from the 595 construction-related injuries in 2019;
- Eight building construction-related fatalities, down from twelve fatalities that we saw in 2019.
This decline in construction-related incidents, beginning in 2019, was the first such decrease in almost ten years, and coincides with changes in Department regulations, including mandatory site safety training for workers on larger work sites, and new proactive construction inspection protocols at the Department. The report examines these recent initiatives at the Department, as well as others that have contributed to safer construction sites including the implementation of COVID-19 health and safety protocols, spearheading new construction safety legislation, and vigorous industry engagement.
In response to a recent spate of tragic construction-related fatalities that occurred earlier this year, earlier this month DOB mobilized teams of construction inspectors across the five boroughs to perform “Zero Tolerance” safety sweeps of the city’s larger and more complex construction sites. During these inspections, our inspectors have specifically been looking to ensure permitted construction projects are in full compliance with their required site safety plans, workers on site are properly using safety harnesses where required, and that any controlled access zones at the sites are properly secured to prevent falls. The Department’s “Zero Tolerance” safety sweeps are ongoing.
Since these sweeps started on June 1, 2021, the Department has already:
- Conducted “Zero Tolerance” safety inspections at over 2,100 of NYC’s larger and more complex building construction sites.
- Shut down work at 322 of these construction sites with Full and Partial Stop Work Orders, due to hazardous conditions.
- Issued over 1,129 violations for safety issues and code non-compliance issues at these work sites.
“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,” said Council Member Robert E. Cornegy, Jr., Chair of the Committee on Housing and Buildings. “We live in an age of information overload, so as Chair of the Housing and Buildings Committee, I am very pleased to see this detailed report providing clarity of insight. We are on the path to giving construction safety the care it deserves.”
“We are very encouraged by the dramatic decline in on-the-job injuries this report shows, and we applaud the efforts of both the Department of Buildings and the construction community to keep workers safe,” said Brian Sampson, President, Empire State Chapter of Associated Builders & Contractors. “Safety is everyone’s job and should always be front and center in all that we do. Commissioner La Rocca and her team are to be commended and we look forward to continuing to work with her and her office.
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