City Report: Close to half of all construction sites raise safety concerns

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Close to half of the city's construction sites are unsafe at any given time, a new city survey suggests.

A recently completed two-month Department of Buildings sweep uncovered just 55% of jobsites in full compliance with existing safety requirements, while 33% had some violations and a sizeable 13% had violations so severe that construction needed to be halted.

The survey was conducted in response to last year's 37% increase in construction site accidents.

"We cannot let this trend continue," said Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri told construction industry insiders at the annual Build Safe/ Live Safe conference Monday in lower Manhattan.

The city's focus is on low-rise buildings, where seven of the eight fatalities in 2012 occurred.

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"Each accident was absolutely preventable," LiMandri said.

LiMandri said the agency would focus on enforcement and education, but the city's own policies may be contributing to the danger in low-rise buildings.

High-rise developers must employ a full-time safety manager, but low-rise builders can use "site safety coordinators" who can oversee up to 10 buildings at once, said Tim Hogan, the assistant commissioner of enforcement for the Buildings Department.

The agency also revealed:

- Half of the fatal accidents in 2012 stemmed from falls.

- In 2012, the city experienced a 16% increase in accidents caused by falling debris.

- Injuries to the public spiked by 25% in 2012.

- Construction permits rose 3% citywide, but bounced back 72% in Manhattan after a post-crash lull.

Union workers seized on the rules of the inspection sweep as evidence that non-union sites are less safe.

"Low-rise sites are not regulated well because they are non-union," said a member of Laborers' Local 18A, who did not want to provide his name. "Workers are scared to open their mouths because they would get fired."

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/real-estate/report-construction-sites-unsafe-article-1.1331102#ixzz2UDeaZgQd