Council approves stronger DOB oversight

By Adam Pincus | August 14, 2008 05:28PM

The City Council approved legislation today that would tighten construction oversight, loosen the professional requirements for the Department of Buildings commissioner and prohibit large air-conditioned stores from keeping their doors open.

One oversight law requires that a site safety manager be present when more than 2,000 cubic yards of concrete are poured. The other mandates a site-safety training program.

The council also approved a bill removing the requirement that the DOB commissioner be a licensed architect or engineer. Under the new law, if the commissioner isn’t licensed, the first deputy commissioner must be.The Bloomberg administration supports the air-conditioning and DOB legislation. The city’s main trade group representing construction firm employers, the Building Trades Employer’s Association, also backs the DOB bills.

The group’s president and CEO, Louis Coletti, said the oversight bills would improve safety.
“We feel that is a major step forward in reducing the number of accidents,” he said.

The group has opposed removing the licensing requirement for the commissioner.

Coletti said additional legislation aimed at improving crane safety was still being worked out. The bills were drawn up after nine people were killed in two construction crane accidents this year.

There have been 16 construction-related deaths this year.