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More Than 300 NYC Construction Sites Shut Down For Safety Violations

The sites were shut down as part of the city's "Zero Tolerance" safety sweep

A slew of stop work orders were handed down to New York City construction sites in the past few weeks as part of major safety crackdown from the Department of Buildings.

A total of 322 work sites were shut in June as part of the city’s “Zero Tolerance” safety sweep announced at the start of the month, ABC News reports, citing a new report released today by the DOB.

The department said when it announced the sweep it would be inspecting thousands of sites, and any contractors found to be breaking rules would face penalties of up to $25K. Inspectors were checking for adherence to safety regulations and site safety plans, and looking at the use of harnesses and fall arrest systems.

"Construction deaths are not acceptable. In order to prevent avoidable fatalities, we need better information about construction sites and we need to learn from our mistakes that put workers at risk. This new report does just that," Robert Cornegy Jr., a member of the City Council and chair of the Committee on Housing and Buildings, told ABC.

DOB Commissioner Melanie La Rocca earlier in the month said that the sweep was in response to what she described as a “spate” of worker deaths in the city. Back in April, the DOB announced five new construction safety bills were being introduced to the city council and a set of code revisions. The new laws will be debated next month, per ABC, and would require all general contractors to be licensed by the DOB.

In announcing the stop work order, the DOB said that construction injury numbers decreased in 2019 and 2020, with a total of eight deaths last year.

In May, a worker at a building site in the Queens neighborhood of Maspeth died when he fell from scaffolding. In April, the DOB fined Gotham New York $59K for safety violations at a condominium site in Williamsburg where a worker died, per The Real Deal.

It is not the first time La Rocca has run a blitz on construction safety. In early 2020, the DOB changed the Facade Inspection & Safety Program, known as Local Law 11, requiring landlords to inspect their building exteriors more intensely and have to display information about the safety of their buildings in their lobbies. The ramped-up rules were introduced after two people were killed by falling building facades in the city within a month.