NYC Mayor Announces Changes to Strengthen Construction, Demolition Safety

On July 16, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced a series of changes in the way demolition and abatement operations are regulated and carried out in New York City.

The changes are outlined in a report, "Strengthening the Safety, Oversight and Coordination of Construction, Demolition and Abatement Operations," that was presented to the mayor by a working group led by Deputy Mayor Edward Skyler. There are 33 specific recommendations in the report designed to strengthen agencies' inspection practices, increase notifications and data-sharing between agencies, and improve the safety of abatement and demolition operations. The report re-orients agency enforcement efforts to focus on a shared set of fire- and life-safety concerns, regardless of which City agency is working at a site.

"Asbestos abatement, construction and demolition work have their own inherent risks, especially when they intersect," Bloomberg said. "After months of exhaustive analysis and review, the group I asked Ed Skyler to convene to review this issue developed 33 recommendations to strengthen agency practices and improve safety, and I am accepting them in full."

Last fall, a working group of city agencies began its review of the regulation of demolition and abatement operations, agency practices regarding enforcement, and the way these operations are carried out in the field. The working group draws members from the Departments of Buildings (DOB), Environmental Protection (DEP), and Fire (FDNY) as well as from the mayor's Office of Operations and the Law Department.

In New York City, the Buildings Department issues permits for building construction and demolition, and Buildings and the Fire Department conduct inspections of construction and demolition sites. The Department of Environmental Protection regulates and inspects asbestos abatement. The recommendations developed by the working group address each of these areas. The city already has begun to implement some of the recommendations in the report immediately, and will work with industry stake holders and others to implement all 33 recommendations as quickly as possible. The recommendations fall into three groups: abatement operations; demolition operations; and inspections conducted by FDNY, DEP and DOB.

The report can be accessed in PDF format at http://www.nyc.gov/html/om/pdf/2008/pr277-08_safety_report.pdf.

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