- A new team of building inspectors in New York City has been conducting surprise inspections at jobsites for major construction projects, a program that has netted the city $15 million in fines since September 2018, according to The New York Times.
- A team of 38 inspectors, eventually to number 53, have completed 20,166 surprise inspections of 10,256 city construction sites, approximately 25% of all actives sites during the same period of time. The team issued the majority of 11,484 violations this year after the new, dedicated group of inspectors was in full operation.
- During visits to major construction sites, which are new construction or renovations projects of four stories or higher, the inspectors also issued 2,523 stop-work orders for safety supervision violations and incidents of dangerous working conditions. Despite minor pushback from developers and owners who have complained that the inspections can be disruptive and target minor violations, the city said that the number of accidents in the first nine months of this year fell by 26% compared to the same period last year.
Still, some construction workers and their advocates say that city construction sites are dangerous and that more attention needs to be paid to safety training.
To that end, last week, the New York City Department of Buildings announced that its inspectors have started visiting 6,000 city construction sites in order to educate workers on the importance of safety before the Dec. 1 training deadline. The inspections started earlier this month.
By Dec. 1, workers at jobsites requiring a construction superintendent, site safety coordinator or site safety manager must have 30 hours of safety training and a total of 40 hours by September 2020. Supervisors must have 62 hours of training by December 1.
The city maintains a database of thousands of construction projects that require site safety training and, on Nov. 6, visited 1,000 of them in order to alert workers to the upcoming training deadline.
Inspectors are working jobsites in all five New York City boroughs, and the violations they will be looking for include:
- Compliance with existing construction safety regulations;
- Correct scaffold safety measures;
- Crane installation and use according to approved plans; and
- Adequate fall protection systems.
Those jobsites that building inspectors deem unsafe could be on the hook for $25,000 per construction safety violation. If inspectors find that the site has one or more serious safety issues, they are authorized to shut the entire job down. According to the DOB, it has quadrupled monetary fines for construction violations during the last few years.
If inspectors find that employees have not had the proper training by the deadline, the DOB plans on issuing three separate violations to the owner of the site, the permit holder and the employer of the untrained worker. The penalty for each of those violations could be as much as $5,000 per worker, but the DOB could be willing to lower or forgive the fine if the employer goes on to provide the necessary training.
Workers can meet the training requirements by completing a 30-hour OSHA training course or a 10-hour OSHA class with 20 hours of additional training that includes eight hours of fall prevention training, an eight-hour site safety manager refresher and four hours of scaffold training. Workers also will have met the requirement if they have completed a DOB-approved 100-hour training course.