New York City construction accidents prompt policy changes

Agencies and lawmakers are working to reduce accidents on New York City construction sites with better standards and enforcement and higher penalties.

Whether buildings are being built from the ground up or repaired, those who are contracted to get the job done agree to create safe environments for everyone in the area during construction. According to a recent article in the New York Times, many contractors have not been taking this responsibility seriously. Now unions, lawmakers and citizens are calling for an overhaul to the regulations and enforcement of safety standards to reduce hazardous conditions on construction sites.

In a recent press release, the New York City Department of Buildings outlines the ways it has already begun to make changes that should make compliance easier to achieve and to enforce.

Clarification of standards

Not all those who fail to comply with standards do so intentionally. NYC Buildings points out that the red tape and bureaucracy involved can create confusion and considerable delay in the process. To consolidate and expedite development and construction progress, a new interagency group has been tasked with the job of identifying issues between agencies involved.

In addition, NYC Buildings is consolidating building codes and developing an Industry Code of Conduct to clarify requirements, both for those who are in the industry and those who are in enforcement.

Timely inspections

The length of time it takes to have a construction site or building inspected has been a problem in NYC's building industry. To address this problem, the Department has adopted technology to streamline inspections, which could reduce wait times by up to 75 percent. In addition, NYC Buildings has expanded the scheduling of inspections to include some evening and weekend options.

Enforcing standards

NYC Buildings identifies those who violate construction codes and create hazards as bad actors, and they may include owners, construction professionals, applicants and others. It is now the responsibility of the newly created Risk Management Office to identify industry corruption and dangerous conditions, then pursue disciplinary actions against the bad actors.

Other suggested improvements

In spite of these advances, many believe that not enough has been done to address the prevalence of the problems plaguing the City's building industry. City councilmen have proposed more astringent fines for contractors who violate stop-work orders or who work without permits. Other bills would put in place compulsory apprenticeship training programs for workers and mandatory safety violation reports to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Construction violations may affect anyone, from those working on building sites to pedestrians on sidewalks. A New York City personal injury attorney may be able to provide legal assistance to those who are harmed in construction site accidents. Compensation may be available to cover medical costs, lost wages and quality of life, and pain and suffering.