REBNY strongly supports policies that expand the local economy, grow, and improve the City’s housing stock and create greater opportunities for all New Yorkers. Thank you to the City Council for the opportunity to testify on this important legislation.
New Yorkers’ health, safety and quality of life are paramount. In our ever-changing cityscape, it is essential we remain diligent in reviewing and updating the safeguards surrounding construction, not only for the protection of workers and public safety, but also for the well-being and livability of our neighborhoods. In considering any proposed changes to safety regulations, we encourage the Council to consult with industry stakeholders and discuss with the appropriate regulatory agencies. It is imperative to understand how the changes would impact existing requirements and what obstacles may prevent successful implementation.
What follows are more specific comments to the Introductions being heard today.
BILL: Intro 267-2022
SUBJECT: This bill would require the distribution of employer identification cards as part of the pre-shift safety meetings required at construction sites. Such cards shall include the name and contact information of the employer, the name and contact information of the site safety manager, and the address of the work site.
SPONSORS: Councilmembers Moya, Sanchez, Stevens, and Nurse.
In recent years, REBNY has been grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with the Council on a variety of efforts pertaining to construction safety, including strengthening requirements around site safety training, superintendents’ licensures, as well as updates to the plethora of construction and building codes.
Intro 267-2022 proposes to establish additional accountability for construction workers who may move from construction site to construction site on a regular basis, including day laborers who may work on multiple sites each week, or even each day. As some of these workers may lose track of where they worked during any given shift, this legislation aims to ensure that workers are provided with this information.
REBNY is not opposed to workers being provided with this information but providing workers with the required information prior to every shift is too often, and will create administrative burdens for subcontractors, site safety managers and others required to distribute this information.
In lieu of providing information prior to each shift, REBNY believes that the intent of the legislation can be accomplished if the information is distributed during site orientations, or once a new worker starts at a work site. From a practical perspective, most workers are required to report to a site safety manager, trade superintendent or project manager prior to beginning work at a site. This is to ensure that each worker holds a required SST card, is equipped with the appropriate PPE, and undergoes additional safety training dependent on the site or trade. It would be sensible to provide this information required by the legislation at these points.
In addition to these suggestions, REBNY believes that it will be important to ensure that employers and workers alike understand why these cards are being disseminated and what would be required of each party moving forward, which would be accomplished through ongoing education and communication from the Department of Buildings (DOB).
BILL: Intro 268-2022
SUBJECT: This bill would require the Department of Buildings to inspect worksites with major renovations that have been issued stop work orders at least once every two weeks until the violating condition has been corrected. The inspections must be conducted jointly by at least one inspector from the unit that issued the stop work order, and at least two additional inspectors from different but related units within DOB.
SPONSORS: Councilmembers Moya and Stevens.
Stop work orders or partial stop work orders are the results of serious infractions in which a condition on a construction site poses a direct threat to the safety of the site’s workforce or the public. For REBNY members, all precautions are taken to prevent not only the most serious conditions that could lead to stop work orders, but all conditions that could compromise the safety of a site.
For sites or construction projects, there is no greater priority than safety. Where a stop work order is issued, there are very few instances when the work is not facilitated to correct the violations that led to the stop work order immediately. Not doing so not only continues to impact the site’s safety, but leads to lost time, schedule delays, and increased insurance costs that any well-managed site or project strives to avoid.
Because of this, REBNY believes that the universe of sites where stop work orders linger is a short list, and therefore it is unclear as to why these additional inspection requirements are necessary. Additionally, REBNY fears that utilizing DOB’s inspectorial resources to visit construction sites where a stop worker order has been issued could be a misutilization and lead to increased project delays, where other safety inspection needs could be more pressing and common. Requiring that a minimum of three inspectors perform repeat inspections will certainly have an impact on DOB’s ability to best respond to 311 complaints, emergency responses, and as mentioned, would impact their ability to perform proactive inspections. As a result, REBNY encourages the Council to consult with DOB on whether these concerns are founded, and if they are, to ensure that the data truly suggests that these additional inspections are needed in this universe of construction sites.
Thank you for the consideration of these points.