NYC Hires More Inspectors to Enforce Construction Safety

Two months after a deadly crane collapse killed seven in New York City, and a month after a $4 million initiative to examine crane operations and other high-risk activities at construction sites was launched, the focus is still on construction safety in the Big Apple. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Robert LiMandri, acting Department of Buildings commissioner, announced this week that $5.3 million has been added to the department's budget to fund 63 new positions to enhance oversight and enforcement of construction safety.

"The Buildings Department has a critical responsibility to protect the public from construction hazards and to protect the lives and guard the safety of the city's more than 125,000 construction workers," said Bloomberg. "Today, we are furthering this mission by investing resources in making sure that the city's diverse and talented construction industry takes responsibility for worker and public safety at construction sites throughout the five boroughs, from high-rise construction to single-family homes. We are in the midst of a historic building boom and the added development demands that we devote sufficient resources to aggressively enforce site safety."

Many of the positions will allow the department to implement phase three of its Special Enforcement plan, announced in July 2007, and will enable it to launch a construction monitoring program and a violation re-inspection team. The $5.3 million investment brings the total number of Buildings Inspectors to 461, up from 277 in 2002.

Council Speaker Christine Quinn said putting more well-trained inspectors in the field is a sure-fire way to increase safety around construction sits. “By giving the agency added ability to perform unannounced inspections, we will raise the bar at jobsites across the city and increase the safety of thousands construction workers,” she said.

The plan is a multi-phase initiative to increase the department's presence on construction jobsites, increase audits and unannounced inspections, and tighten oversight over the professional certification program. The New Construction Monitoring Program will bolster the city's oversight at milestone points in the construction of new buildings and major alterations by increasing the number of audits performed at different intervals in the progress of major construction. Buildings inspectors will conduct more safety inspections during the course of construction for any given building to verify that actual construction matches approved plans and complies with code and zoning regulations.

The New Violation Re-Inspection Team will conduct follow-up inspections of properties where individuals fail to certify that the violating condition has been corrected. The team will also audit sites through unannounced visits where individuals have certified that the violating condition has been corrected in order to verify that the necessary work has been completed properly.