Construction Safety: NYC’s Most Common Violations

Abogado Christopher J. Gorayeb

Construction safety is paramount in New York, where workers face numerous hazards and risks daily. From working at heights to handling heavy machinery and hazardous materials, construction sites can be dangerous environments if proper safety precautions are not in place.

In New York City, where construction is a vital part of the urban landscape, ensuring safety on construction sites is a legal and moral obligation. In this blog post from Gorayeb & Associates, we’ll explore the importance of identifying and addressing safety violations in the construction industry and how workers can promote a safety culture and prevent accidents and injuries.

Important Laws Regarding Safety in Construction

In New York City, construction safety is regulated by various laws and regulations aimed at protecting workers, the public, and property. Here are some essential rules and regulations regarding occupational safety in construction in NYC:

  • New York City Construction Codes: The NYC Construction Codes govern the design, construction, alteration, and maintenance of buildings and structures in the city. These codes include provisions related to structural safety, fire safety, and other aspects of building construction.
  • New York City Building Code (NYCBC): The NYCBC regulates the construction, demolition, alteration, and occupancy of buildings and structures. It includes provisions for safety measures such as egress, fire protection, and structural integrity.
  • New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) Regulations: The DOB enforces the NYC Construction Codes and other applicable building construction and safety laws. It issues permits, conducts inspections, and ensures compliance with safety standards.
  • Local Law 196 of 2017: This law requires workers at construction sites in NYC to complete specific safety training courses. Workers must complete a certain number of hours of training to be eligible to work on construction sites.
  • New York State Labor Law, Article 10: Article 10 of the New York State Labor Law sets forth requirements for safety in construction, including provisions related to scaffolding, hoisting equipment, and other safety measures.
  • OSHA Regulations: While not specific to NYC, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations apply to construction sites throughout the United States, including those in NYC. OSHA sets workplace safety standards, including fall protection requirements, hazard communication, and personal protective equipment.
  • Tenant Protection Plans (TPPs): For construction projects that may impact occupied buildings, such as renovations or demolitions, TPPs are required to ensure the safety of occupants. These plans outline measures to mitigate hazards and protect residents during construction activities.

Compliance with these laws and regulations is essential for ensuring the safety of workers and the public on construction sites in New York City.

Safety Protocols All Employers Should Stick To

Here are some safety protocols that all NYC construction employers should adhere to to maintain safety standards for construction:

  • Provide Safety Training: Ensure that all workers receive proper safety training, including orientation to the site-specific hazards and regular training sessions on fall protection, scaffolding safety, electrical safety, and hazardous materials handling.
  • Implement a Safety Program: Develop and implement a comprehensive safety program that includes policies, procedures, and guidelines for identifying, preventing, and addressing safety hazards on construction sites.
  • Provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Supply workers with appropriate personal protective equipment, such as hard hats, safety glasses, gloves, high-visibility clothing, and respiratory protection, and ensure that they are trained in its proper use.
  • Ensure Safe Equipment Operation: Regularly inspect and maintain all construction equipment and machinery to ensure safe operation. Train equipment operators and ensure they are appropriately certified and licensed.

By adhering to these safety protocols, NYC construction employers can help create a safer work environment for their employees and reduce the risk of accidents and injuries on construction sites.

Most Common Failed Safety Precautions on Construction Sites

By adhering to the following safety protocols, NYC construction employers can help create a safer work environment for their employees and reduce the risk of accidents and injuries on construction sites.

1. Inadequate Temperature Control and Hot Water Supply:

Failure to maintain indoor temperatures at 68 degrees Fahrenheit during the day when it’s chilly outside or 55 degrees Fahrenheit at night when it’s colder can lead to violations. Additionally, it’s essential to ensure consistent access to hot water at a minimum temperature of 120 degrees Fahrenheit at all times.

2. Missing Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Alarms:

Building owners must install at least one carbon monoxide and smoke alarm in each tenant’s permanent residence or commercial space. However, tenants are responsible for adequately maintaining these alarms, including replacing batteries when necessary.

3. Locks Requiring Keys for Emergency Exit:

Using locks that necessitate keys for emergency exits poses a significant safety hazard. In emergencies, the delay caused by searching for a key to unlock doors and windows could have severe consequences.

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4. Mold Growth and Pest Issues:

While tenants are expected to uphold cleanliness standards to prevent mold and pest infestations, owners must address conditions conducive to excessive mold or vermin presence. Neglecting these issues compromises the health and safety of occupants.

5. Accessibility Shortcomings:

Compliance with Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is crucial for ensuring building accessibility. Architects, builders, and property managers must prioritize accessibility considerations in new construction projects and renovations. However, many buildings still lack adequate accessibility features, posing challenges for individuals with disabilities.

What Could Happen If Building Site Safety Fails?

When building site safety fails, workers are exposed to various risks and hazards that can lead to severe consequences, including:

  • Injuries and Fatalities: Failure to implement proper safety measures can result in accidents, causing injuries ranging from minor cuts and bruises to severe injuries such as fractures, burns, and traumatic brain injuries. In the worst cases, accidents can lead to fatalities, leaving families devastated and co-workers traumatized.
  • Long-term Health Effects: Exposure to hazardous substances, such as asbestos, lead, or toxic chemicals, due to inadequate safety precautions can lead to long-term health issues such as respiratory problems, neurological disorders, cancer, and other chronic illnesses.
  • Psychological Impact: Witnessing accidents or experiencing near misses due to safety failures can have a profound psychological impact on workers, leading to stress, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Building site safety failures can have devastating consequences for workers, their families, and employers, highlighting the importance of prioritizing safety in the construction industry.

What to Do If You Spot Construction Industry Safety Violations?

Suppose workers spot safety violations in the construction industry. In that case, it’s crucial to take immediate action to address these concerns and prevent potential accidents or injuries. Here are steps that workers can take:

  • Report the Violations: Workers should report safety violations to their immediate supervisor or the designated safety officer on the construction site as soon as possible. They can also report violations directly to the OSHA.
  • Document the Violations: It’s essential to document safety violations by taking photographs, videos, or written notes detailing the observed hazards. This documentation can provide evidence to support the reported violations and facilitate investigations.
  • Use Whistleblower Protections: Workers are protected by whistleblower laws that prohibit retaliation for reporting safety violations. If workers fear retaliation from their employer or colleagues, they can seek protection under these laws and report violations anonymously if necessary.
  • Request Corrective Action: Workers should request corrective action to promptly address the identified safety violations. That may involve implementing safety measures, providing additional training, or making necessary repairs or adjustments to equipment or work practices.

By taking these construction site safety measures, workers can help ensure a safer work environment in the construction industry and protect themselves and their colleagues from potential accidents and injuries.

If Workplace Safety in Construction Fails, Call Gorayeb & Associates!

Safety violations in the construction industry pose severe risks to workers’ health, well-being, and livelihoods. By being vigilant and proactive in identifying and reporting safety hazards, workers play a crucial role in preventing accidents and injuries on construction sites.

Employers, regulatory agencies, and industry stakeholders must also prioritize safety and work together to enforce safety standards and promote a safety culture in the construction industry. Together, we can create safer workplaces where workers can perform their jobs with confidence and peace of mind, ensuring everyone returns home safely at the end of the day.

Even with the implementation of construction safety measures, accidents happen. Having NYC personal injury lawyers by your side is essential when seeking justice. With over 35 years of experience obtaining excellent outcomes for our clients, Gorayeb & Associates is your best choice. Call us now and book your free consultation.

Abogado Christopher J. Gorayeb

Information verified by Attorney Christopher J. Gorayeb

Founder of Gorayeb & Associates, P.C.

As one of the most preeminent personal injury lawyers in New York City, Christopher J. Gorayeb brings over 35 years of experience in litigating construction accident cases to the law firm.

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