DOB ramps up construction violations following high number of on-site deaths: report

The agency pledged to increase enforcement
By Kathryn Brenzel | January 17, 2017 07:45AM

Worth Street following the Feb. 5 crane accident

The city ramped up enforcement against construction violations following a large number of accidents and deaths on worksites in the past two years.

In February, the Department of Buildings pledged to increase oversight on construction job sites, and a new study shows the agency has acted on that pledge. The month after the announcement, construction violations soared 46.8 percent year-over-year, jumping to 4,004 in March 2016 from 2,727 in March 2015, according to a report by real estate compliance company SiteCompli. Violations continued to grow through June, which saw 3,762 violations that month — a 21-percent increase from June 2015.

The share of construction-related violations of the combined DOB and environmental control board (ECB) issued also climbed steadily over the past year, rising to 73.6 percent in July 2016 from 59.9 percent in January 2015, according to SiteCompli.

It should be noted that a large percentage of these violations are traditionally construction related. The report also found that 49 percent of the infractions issued from 2010 to 2015 citywide were for construction violations.

Still, the DOB appears to have stepped up its enforcement in the wake of a number of serious construction accidents. Immediately before the agency’s announcement in February, a 15-story crane collapsed and killed a passerby. In December, a worker fell to his death at the Domino Sugar redevelopment site in Brooklyn.

According to a report the city released in September, the number of construction-related accidents hit 500 in fiscal year 2016, compared to 314 the previous year — a 59 percent jump and a more than 200 percent increase from 2012.

The high volume of accidents certainly seems to be on the radar of city and state politicians. The City Council is preparing to present a package of bills that will require apprenticeship programs, additional safety training and change the way the DOB keeps track of construction-related deaths. Both the mayor and the Real Estate Board of New York have said they oppose the apprenticeship proposal. Last week, State Assembly member Francisco Moya said he’s planning to introduce a bill that would change the state penal code to include a specific set of violations for the construction industry, bringing maximum fines up to $50,000 per incident. Last year, the city increased penalties for safety violations from $2,400 to $10,000.