NYC Codes Require New Safety Measures for Construction Sites

On July 1, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and other New York City officials announced the launch of the new City of New York Construction Codes, the first modernization of the Building Code since 1968.

Written with the supporting expertise of more than 400 dedicated professionals from the construction industry, real estate, labor, government and academia, the NYC Construction Codes are in line with national standards and will enhance building and construction safety through expanded requirements for fire protection, structural integrity, and job site accountability on all new construction projects. In addition, the new NYC Construction Codes expand the framework for the Buildings Department's enforcement and administrative actions by re-classifying violations to focus enforcement resources on buildings and job sites that pose the most serious safety hazards to construction workers and the public.

"These codes are more user-friendly for the building professionals and incorporate critical safety measures that better protect millions of New Yorkers at work and at home," Bloomberg said.

On July 1, the Buildings Department began a one-year transition period when applications for new buildings may comply with either the 1968 Building Code or the new NYC Construction Codes, which include the Building, Fuel Gas, Mechanical, and Plumbing Codes. On July 1, 2009, the NYC Construction Codes will be mandated for all new construction. Henceforth, all construction receiving permits, regardless of whether the plans comply with the 1968 Building Code or new NYC Construction Codes, is subject to the new administration, enforcement, and construction safety rules, which include:

New Violation Classification System. Violations are now re-classified to enable Buildings Inspectors to zero-in on the buildings or construction sites that present the most significant risk to the public. Under the new system, violations fall into three classes that range in severity depending on the risk the condition poses to public safety. Penalties for violations are substantially increased in conjunction with the new classification system.

New Safeguards Required During Construction. Construction sites holding permits are subject to new requirements to safeguard the public and property. The new requirements expand the Site Safety program to apply to more building types, call for new safety procedures for certain types of demolition, and enhance protection for properties adjoining excavation sites.

Special Inspections to Monitor for Compliance as Construction Proceeds. Third-party inspectors are now required to conduct more inspections at critical points in the construction process to advance compliance with construction regulations. The third-party inspectors, who must meet qualifications established by the Buildings Department, will verify that the conditions on the job site comply with the approved construction documents.

Buildings constructed under the new Codes will be subject to enhanced structural integrity and fire protection measures, which include:

Expanded Structural Safety. Enhanced design requirements, including stronger connectivity requirements for steel and concrete construction, will enable buildings to better withstand conditions such as strong winds, vehicular impacts, and gas explosions, officials said.

Enhanced Emergency Systems. Emergency voice communication systems and emergency power generators will be required in all new residential buildings 125 feet or higher. In an emergency, these systems enable the Fire Department to speak to tenants and use back-up power for egress lighting and for at least one elevator.

Sprinklers Required in More Buildings. Automatic sprinkler systems will now be required in more buildings, including residential buildings of three units or more, attached two-family homes, and one- and two-family homes that are more than three stories.

The NYC Construction Codes are modeled after the International Code Council's International Building Code but have been modified to meet the needs of New York's dense urban environment. Signed into law by the Mayor in July 2007, the NYC Construction Codes require the department to revise the Codes every three years to incorporate new standards, technologies and materials. To learn more about the codes, visit www.nyc.gov.

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