Building Safety Fines Quadrupled in NYC

The penalty for serious safety lapses is rising to $10,000 and the penalty for lacking a construction superintendent to a maximum of $25,000. Mayor Bill de Blasio and Department of Buildings Commissioner Rick Chandler also announced an enforcement blitz will target 1,500 sites in the next 90 days.

With construction booming in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Department of Buildings Commissioner Rick Chandler announced Feb.12 that they will quadruple the penalties for serious construction-safety lapses, raising them from $2,400 to $10,000, and will launch a blitz of more than 1,500 enforcement site visits.

The penalty for lacking a construction superintendent will rise from $5,000 to a maximum of $25,000. Construction has surged more than 300 percent since 2009, and preventable construction-related injuries and fatalities also have increased. "No building is worth a person's life. We have a responsibility to keep the men and women who are building New York City safe. We are ramping up inspections and oversight to make sure that our workers have added protections. We do not accept any loss of life in this business as inevitable or acceptable," de Blasio said.

"We won't tolerate contractors who cut corners and recklessly increase the risks of construction work. We're quadrupling the penalties for the most frequent safety lapses, sweeping contractors with poor safety records at projects of less than 10 stories – where nearly three quarters of accidents occurred last year – and increasing oversight at these sites," Chandler said. "Our investigations routinely reveal that accidents could have been prevented if contractors simply followed existing safety rules. We're determined to change the mindset that safety violations are simply the cost of doing business."

According to the mayor's news release, these actions are part of a $120 million modernization underway at the department that will increase oversight of higher-risk sites, conduct proactive enforcement sweeps at sites that have a history of serious violations or stop-work orders, and require a construction superintendent on all new construction and major renovations of buildings under 10 stories. Sweeps the department conducted last fall halted work at more than 500 construction sites citywide.

The department last week began sweeping contractors with poor safety records who are working on buildings under 10 stories, because in 2015 a disproportionate number of accidents occurred at these sites. DOB also will make enforcement visits to all construction sites taller than 15 stories, with 1,500 job sites to be swept during the next 90 days. Inspectors will be looking for failures to use proper safety equipment, install guardrails, or remedy trip hazards, among other infractions.

Currently, construction superintendents are required on all new, major construction projects of buildings under 10 stories, but by July 2016, DOB will require construction superintendents for all major construction projects at buildings under 10 stories. "Superintendents will now have to review sites daily and log all safety information. Contractors who fail to comply will be issued stop-work orders and penalties from $5,000 to $25,000 for repeat infractions or other proactive enforcement measures, as necessary," according to the release.

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