De Blasio to quadruple penalties for serious construction safety violations

City will proactively sweep 1,500 sites over the next 90 days

Mayor Bill de Blasio, Rick Chandler and the Worth Street crane collapse (credit: FDNY)
Mayor Bill de Blasio, Rick Chandler and the Worth Street crane collapse (credit: FDNY)

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced plans for a sweeping new construction enforcement effort Friday, on the heels of a fatal crane collapse earlier this month.

Hizzoner, working with Department of Buildings head Rick Chandler, said the city will quadruple fines for serious safety lapses and undertake “proactive” safety investigations at 1,500 construction sites, along with other measures, according to a news release.

Fines for serious violations will rise to $10,000 from their current $2,400 level. Fines for sites without construction superintendents will rise to a maximum of $25,000 from $5,000.

“No building is worth a person’s life,” de Blasio said in a statement. “We have a responsibility to keep the men and women who are building New York City safe.”

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The new rules come amidst a significant rise in accidents in recent years, as construction in the city has accelerated. Construction has more than tripled since 2009, with 88 million square feet built in 2015.

Accidents have doubled over the same period, hitting a total of 433 citywide in 2015. (Increases in accidents generally lag increases in new construction.)

In addition to the sweeps and fines, the city plans to hire 100 new inspectors, and mandate superintendents for all projects under 10 stories, strengthening the current rules that only require superintendents at new developments.

Nearly three quarters of construction accidents occurred at such sites last year.

A crane collapsed on Worth Street in Tribeca earlier this month, killing David Wichs, a Harvard-trained mathematician. – Ariel Stulberg