DOB issues record number of stop-work orders

Figure outpacing even the number of permits issued for new construction

A construction site near the High Line in Manhattan
A construction site near the High Line in Manhattan

The city has issued stop-work orders at construction sites at a record pace this year following a series of serious accidents.

The Department of Buildings issued 4,580 stop-work orders in the first six months of 2016 — a 23 percent increase from the same time last year and a 70 percent increase from 2012, when only 2,701 orders were issued, Politico reported.

The agency said the orders — which shut down work on sites with violations until the problem is fixed and fines are paid — help promote safety in a construction-heavy city. In the past year, the city has seen at least 16 construction-related deaths. In February, a 15-story crane collapsed in Tribeca and killed a pedestrian.  The death inspired a series of safety recommendations, though the cause of the collapse remains under investigation.

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The number of stop-work orders seems to be growing faster than the number of permits issued for new construction. For example, permits for 11.2 million square feet of new construction were issued in the first half of 2012 while permits for 14.1 million square feet were issued so far this year. At the end of last year, developers rushed to obtain permits and begin construction, fearing the impending expiration of the 421a tax abatement. Following the spike of permits approved in December, the number of approved residential units in January dropped 94 percent to 453.

Lou Coletti, president of the Building Trades Employers’ Association, isn’t happy with the recent surge in stop-work orders.

“We feel that many of these stop-work orders are issued on a very subjective basis, and based on individual inspector determinations, rather than policy that would give guidance to the contractors,” he told Politico. [Politico]Kathryn Brenzel