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CurbedWire Bonus: The New Construction Commandments

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[Photo via Flickr/seth_holladay]

CITY HALL?At an afternoon press conference, Mayor Bloomberg, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and acting Buildings Department Commissioner Robert LiMandri announced a sweeping overhaul of the DOB's oversight of construction sites. And the smackdown hath cometh! There are plenty of increased safety and enforcement tweaks (Project Safety Monitors will be assigned to sites with troubled histories), but the biggest headline appears to be that all general contractors and subcontractors will need to obtain a safety control number, so that the DOB can monitor them more closely. Too many screw-ups and that number can be suspended or revoked, essentially crippling that firm or company's ability to do business. Of course, all of this legislation needs to get passed, but you'd best believe Blooomberg is cracking the whip on this one. Some highlights of the proposals...

Require General Contractors and Demolition and Concrete Subcontractors to Register for a Safety Control Number before Obtaining Building Permits. General contractors are responsible for complex construction operations on both high- and low-rise job sites, and their responsibilities include the hiring and coordination of subcontractors who perform specialized work. Data show the concrete and demolition trades are particularly challenging in New York’s uniquely-dense urban environment. In 2007, 60% of incidents involving material falling from construction sites occurred during concrete operations and 7 of those incidents resulted in an injury or fatality. In 2007, demolition operations accounted for 49 incidents, resulting in 7 injuries and 3 fatalities. This legislation will require that all general contractors obtain a safety control number in order to get a building permit. The safety control number will enable the Department to track the performance of all general contractors and concrete and demolition subcontractors in order to identify those with patterns of non-compliance and poor safety records over time. General contractors with unacceptable safety records will have their safety control number suspended or revoked. The Buildings Department will consult with the industry to develop evaluation criteria that will control for job size, the total number of jobs a contractor has and other factors so that contractors are treated fairly. Require Concrete Site Safety Managers on Job Sites. Similar to what the new NYC Construction Codes require for demolition and high-rise construction operations, this legislation would require a licensed individual to continually monitor concrete operations for compliance with safe practices and building regulations. To obtain a license as a Concrete Site Safety Manager, candidates would be required to pass a background check to demonstrate adequate experience and undergo extensive training. The Concrete Site Safety Manager would have to be available to the Buildings Department at all times, and along with the contractor, would be issued violations with escalating penalties for safety infractions related to concrete work.

Enable the Buildings Department to Assign a Project Safety Monitor to Jobs with Multiple Immediately Hazardous Safety Violations, or Otherwise Poor Safety Records. Immediately hazardous safety violations indicate that contractors are not making public and worker safety their highest priority. This legislation would require contractors to report that they are in compliance with the law within 24 hours of receiving an “Immediately Hazardous violation” from the Buildings Department, or that steps are being taken to correct the violation within a defined time period. Failure to provide this report will result in a civil penalty of up to $5,000. The Department will re-inspect any sites that fail to report and will conduct random audits of sites where violations have reportedly been corrected. In addition, the Buildings Department will be authorized to assign a Project Safety Monitor (PSM) to construction sites with poor safety records. The PSM will work on contract as an agent of the Department and will be assigned pending the satisfaction of conditions to be determined by the Department. The Buildings Department will consult with the industry to develop clear criteria that the Department will use to determine when a PSM could be assigned to a site. Project Safety Monitors will be hired by the City and assigned to problematic sites. The contractor or owner will have to reimburse the City for the amounts paid to the PSM prior to the issuance of a temporary or permanent certificate of occupancy.

Classify Certain Housekeeping Violations as Immediately Hazardous. Poor site maintenance—loose and excess material and debris, inadequate safety netting, and tripping hazards—pose serious threats to public and worker safety. This legislation will enable Buildings Inspectors to write violations related to “housekeeping,” or job site maintenance, as Immediately Hazardous, which will carry penalties as high as $25,000. Classifying housekeeping violations in this way will create strong financial incentives for contractors to take housekeeping seriously, thereby limiting the possibility of debris falling and preventing serious obstructions to first responders, such as the blockage of adequate means of egress.

And some other greatest hits: · Enhance the Requirements of Mandatory Site-Specific Safety Plans for any Project that Requires a Site-Safety Manager.

· Workers Performing Crane Operations Will Be Required to Undergo More Safety Training.

· Mandate a Safety Meeting Prior to the Erecting, Jumping or Dismantling a Crane.

· Mandate More Training for Workers Performing Rigging Operations.

· Require Owners of Vacant and Structurally Compromised Buildings to Report Unsafe Conditions.

· Require Owners to Perform Periodic Inspections of Retaining Walls.

· Require Notification to State of Disciplinary Action Against Licensed Architects and Engineer.

For more (!), here's the full press release. [CurbedWire Inbox]