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State Comptroller Audits DOB

In a follow-up audit released by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli's office, the New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) has been criticized for insufficient efforts in ensuring worker safety on construction sites and a failure to implement recommended reforms.

New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

PHOTO: By Office of NYS Comptroller

As Crain’s reports in its January 12, 2024 article titled “City still not doing enough to keep construction sites safe, state comptroller finds”, despite improvements in some policies, the audit revealed that DOB remained unaware of five construction accidents resulting in injuries between September 2022 and March 2023 until informed by the comptroller's office. DiNapoli had recommended creating lists of high-risk construction sites for proactive inspection, based on contractors' safety records, but the DOB primarily relies on "due dates" instead. The Construction Safety Compliance unit, responsible for proactive inspections, has seen a 61% reduction in employees over two years.

The comptroller emphasized that DOB had not penalized contractors failing to demonstrate correction of unsafe conditions after receiving a summons, as highlighted in the initial audit. While DOB's policy is to issue violations for non-compliance in a timely manner, the department failed to do so for over 60% of 18,000 summonses for hazardous conditions left open for more than 30 days as of August 2021. Despite limited steps taken by DOB, such as regular meetings with the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), DiNapoli urged the department to hold contractors accountable and use data effectively to identify at-risk construction sites. The DOB defended its record, stating that construction-related fatalities declined from 11 in 2022 to 7 in 2023, attributing improved compliance to outreach campaigns.


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