For Immediate Release: September 13, 2021
Conact: dobcommunications@buildings.nyc.gov, (212) 393-2126

ZERO TOLERANCE: RESULTS OF CITYWIDE CONSTRUCTION SAFETY ENFORCEMENT SWEEPS

Three-Month Long Safety Sweeps Have Resulted in 1,499 Stop Work Orders For Conditions That Put Workers and The Public at Risk

New York, NY — Buildings Commissioner Melanie E. La Rocca announced today the results of the Department’s citywide “Zero Tolerance” construction safety enforcement campaign, that included Department inspectors sweeping construction sites across the five boroughs in order to ensure that proper safeguards were in place to prevent worker falls and other related construction site injuries. Since the campaign was launched on June 1, 2021, DOB inspectors have conducted sweeps at approximately 7,500 building construction work sites in all five boroughs, issued over 3,600 violations to contractors and site safety professionals for their failure to keep their work sites safe, and issued 1,499 Stop Work Orders at construction work sites across the city. There have been seven building construction-related fatalities in New York City in 2021, all occurring in the first five months of the year.

“DOB enforcement is of critical importance in promoting safety at construction sites; but the reality is that we cannot be in all places at all times,” said Commissioner La Rocca. “To protect the lives of the working men and women who are building in our city, we need our partners in the construction industry to step up and join us in pushing for enhanced round-the-clock supervision and greater accountability.”

The construction work site inspections conducted during this three-month campaign, were in addition to the hundreds of thousands of regular development and enforcement inspections performed by DOB inspectors throughout the city year-round. DOB will be following up on our “Zero Tolerance” construction safety campaign with a return to our routine unannounced site safety inspections of NYC’s larger construction work sites, continued interventions at specific sites identified during the campaign that were found to have egregious site safety violations, and a renewed push to enact proposed construction safety legislation.

Earlier this year, the Department announced that five new construction safety bills were introduced for consideration in the New York City Council. If adopted, these consequential bills would greatly enhance oversight and accountability on construction sites in our city, building upon important work the Department has undertaken in recent years to drive down work site fatalities and injuries. The proposed bills would create a licensing requirement for general contractors who perform construction work, require more site safety supervision at larger work sites, strengthen requirements for cold-formed steel construction, and permanently ban the dangerous use of stand-off brackets for suspended scaffold work.

Results of Construction Safety Sweep by Borough:

Manhattan

Bronx

Brooklyn

Queens

Staten Island

Total

Sites Visited

1645

722

2757

1929

390

7443

Violations

978

365

1252

934

137

3666

Stop Work Orders

545

144

425

339

46

1499

Results of Construction Safety Sweep by Work Site Type:

New Building

Demolition

Alteration

Total

Sites Visited

2814

436

4193

7443

Violations Issued

1422

57

2187

3666

Stop Work Orders

498

16

985

1499

“As the Department's enforcement sweeps revealed, the culture of eroding safety on construction sites persists, putting the people who build our city at risk. Since passing landmark construction site safety legislation in 2017, there has been some progress, but it's critical to maintain and expand enforcement to stop bad actors, correct bad practices, and protect workers across New York. I thank the Department and Commissioner for their commitment to enforcing standards that will save lives,” said Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams.

“Construction deaths will be inevitable without constant vigilance. The DOB's new Zero Tolerance sweep has shown that our City is up to the task of creating safe working conditions for construction workers. As Chair of the Housing and Buildings Committee, I am very pleased to see the results of the DOB inspections at approximately 7,500 buildings along with progress on new legislation. We are on the path to giving construction safety the care it deserves,” said Council Member Robert E. Cornegy, Jr., Chair of the New York City Council’s Committee on Housing and Buildings.

“I applaud the Department of Buildings for making safety their top priority. This package of five forward-thinking pieces of legislation is crucial to protecting workers and eliminating construction site fatalities. I am proud to co-sponsor these bills, which will provide additional oversight and allow the agency to impose stricter disciplinary action should a contractor fail to comply with safety regulations,” said Council Member Margaret Chin.

"New York City's construction workers deserve to work in the safest conditions possible," said Council Member Ben Kallos. "Enhanced oversight and accountability at construction sites thanks to this legislation will directly translate into saved lives and fewer serious accidents injuring workers. If these sweeps have resulted in 1499 Stop Work Orders, it is because conditions need to be improved. I applaud the New York City Department of Buildings for their aggressive zero-tolerance approach and for embracing new regulations in order to create a safer city for us all."

 “The results from the Zero Tolerance campaign reaffirm what I’ve been saying for years, unscrupulous contractors run deep and wide across construction sites. Each of these violations represents the risk of injury or death workers have been subject to across our city. Proper safeguards should be the floor not the ceiling. I commend the Department of Buildings for enforcing and advancing construction safety—this is one way we continue to work to make contractors accountable and prioritize the safety of the public and workers,” said Council Member Francisco Moya.

“We can’t move our city into the future without protecting the safety of those who build it. Safety bills are useless without enforcement, so I appreciate these recent sweeps to keep construction workers safe,” said Council Member Robert F. Holden.

“I was absolutely astounded to learn that, in just three months, the Dept. of Buildings’ initiative known as “Zero Tolerance”, resulted in the issuance 1499 Stop Workers Orders to contractors for failing to maintain safe construction sites. That’s 1499 instances where the public and construction workers were exposed to and endangered by unsafe conditions. Kudos to Commissioner La Rocca and her agency for their proactive Zero Tolerance campaign,said Council Member Karen Koslowitz.

“Most accidents at construction sites can be avoided with proper safeguards and consistent compliance,” said Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz (D-Brooklyn). “The Department of Buildings’ zero tolerance campaigns reinforce the important message that the safety of workers and the public must always be the top priority, and that the construction industry must be vigilant in ensuring that the safety rules are followed.”

“The Department of Buildings Zero Tolerance construction safety enforcement campaign is critical to ensuring that safety is paramount at all construction sites across the five boroughs,” said Gary LaBarbera, President of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York. “While efforts have been made in recent years to improve and enhance the safety of construction sites, much more stands to be accomplished, particularly on non-union worksites, to ensure the safety of all construction workers. We’re grateful that the Department of Buildings has prioritized construction safety, and we look forward to continuing to work with their team to ensure all worksites have the rigorous training and safety protocols in place to protect the wellbeing of workers.”

“The goal of Associated Builders and Contractors’ Empire State Chapter is to make construction safer for all, so that every worker returns home safe to their loved ones, every night,” said Brian Sampson, President of Associated Builders and Contractors, Empire State Chapter. “We continue to support measures that improve overall safety in the industry, especially in New York City. Safety is everyone’s job, and we are committed to working with all parties to ensure that New York City is the safest market, for construction, in the nation. We look forward to working with Commissioner La Rocca and her team, and as a member of the Code Committee, to make construction in the City as safe as possible.”

“Enforcement of safety on job sites saves lives. Every inspection, every inspector, serves a purpose: to protect worker safety,” said Charlene Obernauer, Executive Director of the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health. “The zero tolerance campaign is essential in that it reminds employers of the law and cracks down on negligent employers who put workers at risk.”

“CSAC commends Commissioner La Rocca and DOB for their continued efforts to improve safety measures on construction sites and keep workers and passing pedestrians safe,” said James Bifulco, President of the CSACNY. “As NYC’s leading site safety management and training provider organization, CSAC is proud to work closely with DOB and the Council to find new ways to enhance safety measures and requirements. We commend Council Chair Robert Cornegy for introducing Intro 2263, which will require contractors of all new buildings and full demolitions over 6 stories to designate a site safety coordinator/manager. This legislation is vital to improving safety on “low-rise” buildings where a majority of the accidents and fatalities occur. In short, this bill will save lives, is broadly supported and should be implemented as soon as possible once passed.”