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Fostering a “culture of safety”

DOB’s 2020 Digital: Safety, Innovation & Sustainability Conference

DOB Commissioner Melanie E. LaRocca during the Worker Safety Report Card session of the Build Safe | Live Safe Digital 2020: Safety, Innovation and Sustainability Conference. Presentations are available to watch on-demand here.

“The pandemic has given us the opportunity to look at who we are, what we do, and why we do it. We’ve grown our scope, we’ve grown our repertoire,” said DOB Commissioner Melanie E. LaRocca, speaking on Friday, September 25, at the Worker Safety Report Card session of the Build Safe | Live Safe Digital 2020: Safety, Innovation and Sustainability Conference, the department’s first-ever free virtual event. The presentation given by LaRocca and Deputy Commissioner, Enforcement Timothy Hogan culminated a week-long series of over 20 webinars on topics ranging from provisions of the new NYCECC code to storefront accessibility and tenant protection plans. “A culture of safety is the most important thing on a job site,” said LaRocca, noting how the DOB’s job site education campaign helps workers learn ways to protect themselves and their surroundings. She pledged too that the DOB will always align itself with industry goals. “We have expanded our core mission but never lost sight of your core mission,” said LaRocca. “The DOB is more than just regulatory.” She pointed to a “transformation into a department that wants to help you grow, learn and teach.”

First decline in injuries and incidents in nearly a decade

The year 2019 marked the first time in nearly a decade that injuries and incidents on site have declined. Construction-related incidents dropped 19.7% and total construction-related incidents with injuries fell 24.2%.

Heralding the statistic as “something we all should celebrate,” LaRocca was quick to offer widespread credit for the achievement: “Collectively as an industry we’ve all participated to make sure we get those numbers lower...This is something we’ve done together.” Hogan applauded the reduced number of incidents saying, “This was accomplished in great part through the Construction Safety Compliance team initiative and the expansion of the Construction Safety Enforcement team.” The centerpiece of DOB safety initiatives is Local Law 196 of 2017. The legislation, detailed in Worker Safety Days 1 and 2 sessions (see page 8), mandates Site Safety Training (SST) on all sites requiring a site safety professional. Though the increase from 30 to 40 hours of SST has been delayed from September 1, 2020 to March 1, 2021 (see page 17), LaRocca urged all not to wait until the last minute to comply as “Safety doesn’t live by deadlines, it’s there every day.” Sadly, the number of fatalities has not dropped, remaining at 12. The department will continue to commit resources to lower or eliminate the number. Hogan offered a comprehensive and sobering rundown of incidents and fatalities that occurred in 2019. LaRocca concluded by asking: “What have we done in the past, what can we get rid of and what can we do differently in the future to make us faster, more efficient and safer? Safety being the priority of those three always.”


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