DOB releases NYC construction safety analysis after 300+ sites shuttered

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The New York City Department of Buildings shut down hundreds of construction sites across the five boroughs due to safety violations, part of a massive zero tolerance sweep.

A new report reveals the department shuttered 322 work sites this month, and city leaders say the effort aims to reduce construction deaths.

Seven construction workers have died in work related accidents this year, and the DOB on Monday released a new building construction safety report that provides insights on construction safety trends over the 2019 and 2020 calendar years and examines initiatives that led to declines in building construction-related incidents 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 the incidents.

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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.

CLICK HERE to read the full 2019-2020 Construction Safety Report

"Knowledge is power, and the analysis in this report can help the construction industry keep their workers safe from hazardous site conditions," Buildings Commissioner Melanie La Rocca said. "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, there were:
--595 construction-related injuries in New York City on building work sites, down over 21% from the 761 construction-related injuries in 2018
--12 building construction-related fatalities, the same amount of fatalities as in 2018

In the 2020 calendar year, there were:
--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 12 fatalities in 2019

Officials say the decline in construction-related incidents, beginning in 2019, was the first such decrease in almost 10 years and coincided 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.

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The report examined the recent initiatives, as well as others that are believed to 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 this year, the 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.

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.

The report was released just days after a large condominium partially collapsed in Florida, killing at least 10 people with more than 150 unaccounted for.

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