The New York City Department of Buildings, charged with preventing construction-related injuries and fatalities, is staring at a fourth straight year of increased construction accidents, at a rate which has outpaced the growth of jobs in the industry. According to an article from The Real Deal, the trend was most pronounced in the 12-month period that ended in June 2016 in which there were 526 construction-related injuries, a 62 percent increase from the previous 12 months’ total. During that same period, employment in the construction industry in NYC increased just 8.8 percent.
The safety record of the construction industry has been a sore spot for the de Blasio administration. After a high-profile crane collapse that killed a passerby in February 2016, Mayor de Blasio promised to take a tougher stance. The Mayor’s Management Report of September 2016 laid out certain goals for the Department of Buildings, including Goal 2C: “Prevent construction-related fatalities and injuries.” Citing a 35 percent increase in construction jobs since FY2012, the report lists steps DOB is taking to improve construction site safety:
- Increasing oversight of high-risk worksites
- Increasing penalties for failures to safeguard all persons and property from $2,400 to $10,000, and for lacking a construction superintendent from $5,000 to a maximum of $25,000
- Aggressively issuing stop-work orders
- Suspending and revoking licenses/registrations of site safety managers, site safety coordinators, construction superintendents and other licensees
- Implementing the Crane Technical Working Group’s recommendations to modernize and strengthen NYC’s crane regulations
- Increasing education and outreach efforts to promote safety awareness at construction sites throughout NYC, through DOB’s annual Build Safe | Live Safe Conference, DOB’s annual multi-lingual Experience Is Not Enough campaign, and by distributing educational flyers at construction sites across the city
Yet, despite these efforts, construction-related fatalities increased from 10 to 11, construction-related injuries increased 62.3 percent, and construction-related accidents increased 59.2 percent. Clearly, this is an ongoing problem for the city and the de Blasio administration.
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