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Build Safe | Live Safe Conference 2018: Changing the Culture of Construction in NYC

Best Practices Summit Explains and Updates Crowd of 350+ from Industry on

Laws, Codes and Requirements for Construction Safety

There is a renewed and reinforced “determination to change the culture of construction so safety comes first” said Rick D. Chandler, P.E., commissioner, NYC Department of Buildings, addressing a crowd of over 350 general contractors, architects, engineers, safety professionals, government regulators, and others at the Department of Building’s daylong Build Safe | Live Safe 2018 Conference on Thursday, May 10. The conference, held at Convene in New York City, is a best practices summit designed to update all on the latest codes and regulations governing buildings in NYC.

A Moral Imperative to Reduce Risk

Acknowledging that “construction is one of the most dangerous jobs”, the commissioner noted that the inherent nature of the industry creates a “moral imperative to reduce the risk.”

In morning and afternoon programs, 16 DOB experts offered seminars ranging from in-depth explanations and timetables for enforcement of the latest construction safety laws to topic specific sessions on all from scaffold safety, to digital compliance for cranes, hoists and elevators, to classifying NYC’s housing.

Training Saves Lives

Tim Hogan, deputy commissioner, enforcement, offered a presentation that led off with sobering details of the injuries and fatalities suffered by the City’s construction workforce of 160,000 in 2017, along with cautionary tales of near misses. He stressed that all the accidents were preventable and that an industry-wide commitment to drastically shrink or eliminate the number must be upheld.

The causes of accidents, over half from worker or material falls, included harnesses that weren’t properly tied off; overloading cold form steel without first having it fully secured; and hoisting failures.

He urged all, including professionals and others not required to take safety training, to enroll in courses to stay up-to-date with the industry’s latest regulations to maintain safe and compliant job-sites.

One of the industry’s latest and most important changes is the enactment of Local Law 196, which was reviewed in detail by Patrick A. Wehle, assistant commissioner, external affairs. As of March 1, 2018, workers must have received a minimum of 10 hours of training*. The event also touched upon additional regulatory matters, including Local Law 81.

Pre-Planning and Compliance Helps, Not Hinders, Commitment to Build NYC

Eric Jostock, R.A., Assistant Chief Plan Examiner, B.E.S.T. (Buildings Enforcement Safety Team) Squad offered a talk on Local Law 81 and Building Code (BC) 3310.

BC 3310 applies to a new major building of 10 or more stories and a footprint of 100,000 sf or more. It involves work concerning a vertical or horizontal enlargement; full or partial demolition of a major building; alteration, maintenance or repair; and any construction or demolition work.

Local Law 81 requires a Site Safety plan on site for new buildings; demolition of existing buildings; and alterations as applicable – details must be provided.

John Chiusano, R.A., chief plan examiner, B.E.S.T. Squad, noted that code compliance protects the public and should be viewed as a joint effort between the DOB and the industry for the growth and development of the built environment in NYC.

He added, “We’re trying to make it easier for you and help construction in NYC, not stall you. We’re here to help you comply, not give you roadblocks. We want to build NY.”

Items required in a Site Safety Plan according to Article 110 include (details are abridged here):

  • Construction fencing around work site;

  • Gates at construction sites – note that sliding gates occupy the least amount of space;

  • Guardrails around excavations – when required;

  • Horizontal and vertical netting program;

  • Location of sidewalk sheds which offer protection for pedestrians;

  • Location of temporary walkways which pertain to any that change the normal path and require a sidewalk shed;

  • Location of foot bridges and motor vehicle ramps;

  • Protection of side of excavation when required;

  • Location of all street and sidewalk closings;

  • Approximate location of all crane and derrick loading areas.

For the complete list of all points, see Minimum Content, Article 110 Site Safety Plan, p. 22 from the Site Safety Plan Requirements of the NYC Building Code & Local Law 81 of 2017:

Additional topics covered in afternoon sessions included: Structural Stability in the NYC Building Code; NYC Gas Work: Safety & Legislation; Excavation, Interior Demolition & Scaffold Safety – Code Requirements & Construction Implementation; Classifying NYC’s Housing Stock: Clarifying a Difficult Issue; Cranes, Hoists and Elevators: Digital Compliance; Safety Considerations for Renewable Energy Systems; and Learning from Damage Assessment Post Hurricane Maria.

All presentations are available for viewing on NYC Building's website.

*For a more detailed overview of Local Law 196, please read our prior issue – SKYlines Volume 8, Issue 29

Photo: Rick D. Chandler, P.E., commissioner, NYC Department of Buildings, addresses a crowd of over 350 general contractors, architects, engineers, safety professionals, government regulators, and others at the Department of Building’s daylong Build Safe | Live Safe 2018 Conference on Thursday, May 10.

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