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New safety legislation and sweeping code revisions

The NYC Department of Buildings Announces Proposed Bills

General contractors to be licensed by DOB, and more site safety supervision at larger work sites, among the proposed construction safety bills.

Photo: Lerone Pieters on Unsplash

On April 22, 2021 the New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) announced five new construction safety bills and comprehensive updates to NYC’s Construction Codes introduced by the New York City Council.

According to DOB’s press release, the newly introduced code revisions and safety requirements would help further reduce injuries on construction sites by licensing general contractors who perform construction work, requiring more site safety supervision at larger work sites that present the greatest safety risk, strengthening requirements for cold-formed steel construction, and permanently banning the dangerous use of stand-off brackets for suspended scaffold work.

The five proposed construction safety bills include:

Requires all general contractors to be licensed by DOB and to demonstrate their experience, including practical experience working in the construction industry, receive site safety training, and be responsible for the work they perform under their permits.

Allows DOB to take disciplinary action against general contractors, including, if necessary, suspending or revoking a general contractor’s license.

Drops the threshold to require full-time DOB-Licensed Site Safety Coordinators (SSCs) or Site Safety Managers (SSMs) to seven stories and above.

Requires contractors to submit Site Safety Plans to DOB for review and approval before work on major projects in the seven to nine story range can commence.

DOB-Licensed Construction Superintendents would be required to serve full-time alongside SSCs or SSMs at major construction projects starting at seven stories and above and assume responsibility for site safety and overall management of the construction project.

Limits the number of non-major construction projects for which a Construction Superintendent may be designated, with the goal of having a dedicated Construction Superintendent at non-major construction projects for which they are required by 2026.

Builds upon a 2019 Buildings Bulletin issued by DOB creating new safety requirements for special inspectors, construction superintendents, design professionals, and permit holders who are performing cold-formed steel light-frame construction work in New York City.

Aimed at preventing the overloading and improper installation of cold-formed steel, which have previously resulted in injuries, fatalities, and property damage at construction sites in New York City.

Builds upon a 2019 Buildings Bulletin issued by DOB, which prohibited the use of stand-off brackets for C-hook suspended scaffold installations, by making that prohibition permanent.

Construction Code Revisions

The proposed construction code revisions would be the first comprehensive updates to the current Administrative, Plumbing, Building, Mechanical and Fuel Gas Codes since 2014. The revisions were drafted by technical committees comprised of engineers, architects, attorneys, planners, tradespeople, representatives of the construction industry, labor, real estate industry, utility companies, as well as DOB and interagency stakeholders.

A total of 627 new or expanded changes to the existing codes are proposed, along with thousands of minor changes. The committee updates were guided by aligning with improved national safety standards and technical advancements since the last revision cycle. When enacted, they would go into effect the following year.



“I do not accept that construction deaths are inevitable. I do not accept that buildings should explode from gas leaks or that elevator mishaps lead to death. We must strive for safety through thoughtful legislation that incorporates the input from a wide range of stakeholders. This sweeping legislation and code revision puts us on the path to a healthier, more sustainable city,” said Council Member Robert E. Cornegy, Jr., Chair of the Committee on Housing and Buildings, and Brooklyn Borough president candidate.



“The bills being introduced today are a significant step forward in our fight to protect New Yorkers. I am especially proud to support legislation which increases protections for tenants while construction is happening in their buildings,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal. “Construction as harassment is an ongoing issue in my district, leading to displacement and loss of affordable apartments. I'm pleased to see the City's Department of Buildings take the lead in protecting tenants against predatory landlords.”



“For far too long workers have been subject to subpar working conditions leading to injuries and worse, fatalities. The work by DOB together with this set of bills will advance requirements to ensure there are safety plans and measures in place as well as experienced and licensed staff at construction sites,” said Council Member Francisco Moya. “This is how we will work towards making contractors accountable to keep the public and workers safe.”


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