Media Coverage

Construction Training Serves Important ‘Porpoise,’ DOB’s Hogan Says

Commercial Observer
May 9, 2019

Sharp-edged tools, falling debris and dizzying drop-offs are among the obvious hazards at big-city construction sites. But devious marine mammals can represent an even more pervasive danger, according to Timothy Hogan, the deputy commissioner of enforcement at the New York City Department of Buildings. worker training. City law requires that workers on construction sites attend training classes approved by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Hogan reminded the audience at Commercial Observer’s first-ever Construction Safety Forum, held at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center in Midtown yesterday. And these laborers are required to carry cards that prove they’ve spent time in the classroom. But when Hogan’s inspectors visit work sites, they’ve often encountered workers with poorly counterfeited credentials—and the Department of Buildings is cracking down, he warned. As a shot across the bow, Hogan showed photos of some phony cards to demonstrate how easy they are for his inspectors to ferret out. In one case, a sentence on a fake card stated—not without irony—that the credential should not be used for “fraudulent porpoises.”

Campaña con trabajadores de la construcción sobre importancia de la seguridad

NY1 Noticias
May 7, 2019

El Departamento de Edificios de la ciudad lleva a cabo una campaña para recordarles a los trabajadores de la construcción de la necesidad de las medidas de seguridad en sus puestos de trabajo. La actividad es parte de la llamada Semana de la Seguridad en la Construcción. La campaña se da en el contexto de recientes accidentes de trabajo que han causado la muerte de varios trabajadores de la construcción, los últimos tres todos latinos.

SCA Executive Melanie La Rocca Chosen to Head Department of Buildings

Commercial Observer
May 6, 2019

Three months after New York City Department of Buildings Commissioner Rick Chandler left the sometimes troubled city agency, Mayor Bill de Blasio has tapped Melanie La Rocca, a vice president at the School Construction Authority, to head the Department of Buildings, Commercial Observer has learned. La Rocca will join the DOB after more than five years at the SCA, where she is currently the vice president of development and external affairs, according to the mayor’s office.

CODE BREAKERS: Sciame fined after worker injured; Facade inspector suspended for false reports

Real Estate Weekly
May 2, 2019

The New York City Department of Buildings March 2019 enforcement bulletin, provides highlights of the agency’s actions to sanction and deter bad actors in the construction industry through the enforcement of safety laws and codes of conduct for construction professionals. Today’s bulletin includes summaries of DOB-imposed disciplinary actions, including penalties and license suspensions and revocations. The actions below represent a portion of DOB’s overall work to enforce the City’s building codes and safety laws, in addition to the thousands of inspections conducted and violations issued by the agency each month for illegal building and construction conditions.

Developer behind fatal facade collapse that killed 2-year-old to pay city $50K, but won’t serve time

The Real Deal
April 26, 2019

The developer responsible for a 2015 facade collapse that killed a two-year-old girl and injured her grandmother has pleaded guilty to a pair of misdemeanor charges and will pay $50,000 to the city over the incident. Esplanade Venture Partnership pleaded guilty to criminally violating the city’s administrative code by failing to maintain the exterior wall at 305 West End Avenue on the Upper West Side, according to the Department of Buildings. Two-year-old Greta Greene was sitting on a bench outside the residential building with her grandmother in May 2015 when bricks and terracotta fell from it, killing her and hurting her grandmother. The DOB had filed criminal charges against Esplanade in 2016 for failing to maintain the building despite receiving multiple warnings about problems with its facade. The firm was fined $25,000 for both of the charges, and its managing agent Alexander Scharf, who was also charged, has agreed to pay the city $5,000 in restitution.

City launches annual free no-penalty deck inspection program

Staten Island Advance
April 22, 2019

Monday marks the start of the ninth annual city Department of Buildings (DOB) No-Penalty Deck and Retaining Wall Inspection Program. The 45-day-long citywide initiative allows New Yorkers to call 311 to request a free, no-penalty visual inspection of their decks, porches and retaining walls, giving homeowners the opportunity to ensure that these structures are maintained in accordance with NYC Construction Codes. Following the inspection, DOB will notify homeowners of the inspector’s findings and whether or not the conditions observed pose an immediate safety hazard or warrant repairs. If immediate safety hazards are found, DOB will withhold issuing violations for a limited time, giving homeowners the opportunity to make corrective repairs.

CODE BREAKERS: Owner fined $75,000 for running Airbnb; Zara, Uniqlo stores in illegal Soho spaces

Real Estate Weekly
March 29, 2019

The New York City Department of Buildings released its February 2019 enforcement bulletin, which provides highlights of the agency’s actions to sanction and deter bad actors in the construction industry through the enforcement of safety laws and codes of conduct for construction professionals. Today’s bulletin includes summaries of DOB-imposed disciplinary actions, including penalties and license suspensions and revocations.

DOB launches no-penalty elevator inspection program

Real Estate Weekly
March 11, 2019

The Department of Buildings announced that owners of private homes with both registered and unregistered elevators can request a DOB inspection of the device with no penalty for the next 90 days. The program comes after a woman was trapped in the elevator of a Manhattan townhouse, where she worked for three days while the owner was out of town. The woman was rescued when a delivery man contacted the owners when he couldn’t gain access to the house.

New DOB maps shows all building violations, permits issued in past 12 months

The Real Deal
March 8, 2019

The Department of Buildings now has an interactive map that offers a quick glimpse at construction activity, accidents and violations in the city over the past 12 months. The map, unveiled on Friday, highlights every building that has had some interaction with the DOB in the past year. Such interactions include being issued construction permits, receiving violations and being inspected — for elevators, boilers, plumbing, facades, etc. — during that period. The map can be filtered for specific kinds of complaints received at each property, as well as for certain kinds of incidents.

The Building Inspector as Action Hero

New York Times
March 8, 2019

Suspended by ropes like the ones used by rock climbers, she slid past balcony ledges and window frames, careful not to lock eyes with dumbstruck residents. With a tiny mallet and a point-and-shoot camera, she cataloged cracks and blemishes on the building’s facade, pausing at each floor to feel around for fatal flaws. If pedestrians bothered to watch, they might have applauded as she touched down near a neighboring nail salon. Without fanfare, she detached her gear, walked back inside the co-op and took the elevator to the roof for another drop — to canvass another section of the postwar building’s dappled face. It’s all in a day’s work for a growing number of New York City’s building facade inspectors. The recent building boom should keep inspectors busy. Between 2020 and 2025, some 1,500 additional buildings will be required to have inspections, said Jill Hrubecky, an executive engineer with the Department of Buildings. While some in the industry are pushing for the use of unmanned drones — heavily restricted, in most cases, in New York — this is one of the few fields where robots won’t soon prevail. “Nothing is going to replace a hands-on inspection,” she said.

Common Electrical Safety Problems (and How to Solve Them)

New York Times
March 8, 2019

Not all quick fixes are safe fixes — and that’s especially true when it comes to outdated electrical wiring in old houses or apartments…“If you need more outlets you should call a qualified professional, rather than taking the easy way out,” said Robert Diamond, head of the Electrical Development Unit at the New York City Department of Buildings. Depending on where you live, and the age of your home, a licensed electrician could charge as little as $100 to install an additional outlet — a small price for something that should make your home safer for years to come.

NYC's construction boom appears to have peaked

January 22, 2019

New York City's construction boom is showing signs of slowing. New construction around the city is still strong throughout the five boroughs, especially in Manhattan, but the number of new sites appeared to cool last year, according to data released by the buildings department. Buildings Commissioner Rick Chandler unveiled the department's report on 2018 construction on Tuesday, and found that the city had issued 165,988 permits last year, the second highest on record. That represented a drop of 2,255 permits issued by the buildings department, compared with 2017, the first decline in permits since 2009, according to Chandler.

DOB commissioner to step down at the end of month

The Real Deal
January 4, 2019

Department of Buildings Commissioner Rick Chandler is stepping down at the end of this month. Chandler, 58, will retire February 1, he confirmed to The Real Deal on Friday. First Deputy Commissioner Thomas Fariello will take over as acting commissioner until the mayor appoints Chandler’s replacement…As commissioner, Chandler headed an agency tasked with assuring 1.1 million buildings and more than 45,000 active construction sites abided by the city’s building codes. While in office, he oversaw the agency’s modernization efforts, which included digitizing construction filings and inspection records.

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