30/10/2006 - 06:00 am

New York City Begins Construction Safety Outreach Campaign

The New York City Department of Buildings has launched a two-month construction safety outreach campaign to reinforce existing safety rules and regulations to all industry members. This campaign comes after a wave of construction-related accidents swept through the city: Several construction workers fell from scaffolding in separate accidents, a man was trapped and killed after a building collapsed, and a cabbie and his passenger were nearly crushed by a section of crane that fell several stories and landed on their taxi.

As part of the two-month construction outreach campaign, letters are being sent to over 8,000 general contractors, 1,700 hoisting machine operators, and 500 riggers last week, urging compliance with existing requirements and encouraging workers to call 3-1-1 if they see unsafe construction practices. The campaign will also include information sessions on rules governing the operation of cranes and a mass distribution of Spanish/English translation cards. The pocket-sized cards, to be distributed by inspectors to industry workers, include translations for phrases such as "Call 911," "Wear your hard hat," and other terminology aimed at helping workers report accidents and unsafe conditions.

"We are deeply concerned about recent accidents and want to ensure that all industry workers understand and abide by safety rules and regulations already in place," Buildings Commissioner Patricia J. Lancaster said. "I want all members of the industry to listen up: We will not stand idly by and allow unsafe construction practices in our city. Our Building Code, along with our inspectors, engineers, architects, and experts, exists to protect you, your fellow workers, and the public. If you see an unsafe practice, speak up and call 3-1-1, even if you must do so anonymously. With over 950,000 buildings in New York City, we must work together."

The safety outreach campaign is part of a larger initiative to increase safety requirements and enforcement. Other portions of this initiative include the creation of a Forensic Engineering Unit (FEU), a unit made up of expert structural engineers that will determine the causes of structural failures and work to prevent similar occurrences; the establishment of new earthwork rules, which would require all contractors to notify the department 24 to 48 hours in advance of beginning any excavation/earthwork; and the drafting of Rule 21 regarding professional certification, which would expand the grounds for suspending or excluding architects and engineers from the department's professional certification program.

More information on the campaign and additional safety initiatives can be found at www.nyc.gov/buildings.

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