DOB launches winter construction safety campaign after four fatalities in two months

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New York Construction Report staff writer

A new winter construction safety campaign has been launched to promote work site safety in New York City through greater awareness of the potential for serious injuries and fatalities while on the job.

The safety campaign, which will run through the winter months, includes citywide enforcement sweeps and educational outreach to active building construction work sites. All of the approximately 40,000 permitted work sites, regardless of size, will be subject to the ongoing sweeps, scheduled to continue through February.

This new campaign was launched in response to recent tragic incidents where four workers lost their lives in separate building construction-related incidents in November and December.

During their site visits, department inspectors will walk the site looking for unsafe conditions, distribute educational materials and talk directly to workers during morning safety meetings about dangers that they face.

“Safety must come first on any construction site, and that means ensuring that everyone on a site has the resources and information they need to stay safe. It also means holding those in charge accountable for their obligations to the law and to their workers,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams. “With this construction safety blitz, we can halt the trend of recent tragedies and help our city continue to grow while protecting the hard-working New Yorkers on the front lines every day.”

Larger and more complex worksites that are legally required to have dedicated safety supervision, are mandated to hold pre-shift safety meetings for all of the workers. These required “Tool Box Talks” provide a full rundown of all activities and tasks that are scheduled to be performed during the shift, including specific safety concerns or risks associated with the work. Inspectors will be providing the safety personnel and supervisors on these work sites with additional content, including information about recent fatalities.

Inspectors will also be asking those in charge at smaller sites to hold Tool Box Talks and will be recommending that contractors continue to hold daily Tool Box Talks to help raise awareness of injury prevention on their site.

“We must acknowledge that there are inherent risks whenever someone steps foot on a construction site, but that doesn’t mean that we should accept avoidable injuries and deaths,” said acting department of buildings commissioner Kazimir Vilenchik. “We believe that every death on a construction site in this city is preventable, which is why instituting proper safeguards and bringing attention to the dangers associated with work sites is critically important.

“I have ordered construction safety inspectors to fan out across the city to hammer home the message to contractors and workers that cutting corners when it comes to safety can have deadly consequences.”

Worker falls have long been the leading cause of injuries and fatalities, both in NYC and nationwide. Department data shows that eight of the ten building construction fatalities that have occurred in New York City this year were the result of a worker fall.

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