A recent audit of construction worksite safety oversight by the New York City Department of Buildings revealed flaws in the regulator’s inspection practices. As the DOB stated in a report on the audit, “We found OB’s oversight of building construction sites, including construction site inspections and safety, and enforcement activity need to be improved.” The report proposes multiple ways to address the flaws it found, including the implementation of new DOB policies and procedures.
The DOB’s audit found that between June 10, 2021 and August 31, 2021, the agency inspected 43 construction sites across the city, 18 of which “were actively under construction” when inspectors visited. Those inspections found a total of 77 safety issues across 16 of the 17 sites. Those issues included “not having a site safety manager; missing or incomplete site safety logs and daily inspection records; and no documentation of workers completing required site safety training or attending mandatory safety meetings.” It also found that DOB inspectors generally visited sites “after an incident had occurred or a complaint had been received” about it, rather than drawing on data from past enforcement actions and the construction companies’ own safety histories “to help identify high-risk construction sites.”
The report levied additional criticism against the effectiveness of the DOB’s enforcement practices, which it said “provide limited assurance” that worksites address their safety issues with expediency. “When DOB inspectors issue a summons for an immediately hazard condition, the building owner or contractor must correct the condition immediately,” the report states. “However, DOB did not issue a violation for failure to timely certify correction for 10,890 (60%) of the 18,072 summonses issued for immediately hazardous conditions that were open for more than 30 days.” The report finally found that the DOB’s procedures for identifying incidents and reporting injuries and fatalities at worksites are “inadequate,” noting that it misses such incidents, including “three fatalities and six injuries” reported by federal regulators that the DOB did not itself report.
In order to address these issues, the report recommends multiple measures: the creation and implementation of policies and procedures that would timely issue violations for failure to certify corrections of immediately hazardous conditions; the use of DOB and other publicly available data “to identify high-risk contractors and sites to proactively inspection”; and the development and implementation of procedures to identify safety incidents at building worksites. More issue on the report is available via the New York Department of Buildings and Archinect.