Building Trades Employers’ Association (BTEA) president Louis Coletti has announced an industry-wide plan to increase safety for the public and workers on construction sites in New York City.
In testimony before the City Council’s Committee on Housing and Buildings, Coletti announced the Zero Tolerance Initiative.
The Initiative includes recommendations to the City Council to amend the New York City Building Code, programs for contractors and labor to increase safety.
The BTEA represents 27 contractor associations, and 2,000 union construction managers, general contractors and specialty trades contractors doing business in the city.
“Public and worker safety is the highest priority for BTEA contractors and the important changes we are recommending reinforces our members’ commitment to making job sites accident-free,” said Coletti.
“Union builders are already taking important steps to ensure safety and we strongly believe those steps should be applied across the industry. Our personnel policies compel our supervisors to remove any worker from a site where they cause an accident that endangers public or worker safety – and we think that should extend to every job in this city.”
The “Zero Tolerance Initiative” recommendations for projects 10 stories or higher include the following mandatory provisions:
• Installation of a cocoon system for concrete projects that will provide additional protection to the public from debris or material that may fall from these high-rise buildings and provide an additional level of worker protection.
• The increased cost of this requirement can be offset by the opportunity to sell signage on the cocoon, a practice which is done in other cities worldwide.
• Mandatory drug and alcohol testing.
• Crane operator signed inspection verification that the equipment they will be operating has been inspected per shift – similar to OSHA requirements for inspections per shift.
For projects below 10 stories, the BTEA is recommending that every worker receive a 10-hour OSHA training card, which is the same procedure that is required on public works projects over $250,000 in New York State and also required for projects in New York City 10 stories and above.
The BTEA is also calling on the Council to allocate additional funding to the Buildings Department to increase safety. Over the last five years, there has been a 30 percent increase in the number of permits issued or renewed while at the same time the number of employees at the department has decreased by 20 percent.
The BTEA is also calling for greater support of the DOB’s Major Projects Initiative which they say has been marginalized by a lack of funding.
The Major Projects Initiative dedicates senior DOB manager and inspectors to working with developers, contractors and construction managers in pre-construction planning and during bi-weekly meetings.
According to the 2011 Buildings Department Annual Report, projects that used this initiative saw 40 percent fewer accidents, 49 percent fewer violations and 82 percent fewer full “stop work orders” an indicator of safer job sites.
“Making sure the Department of Buildings has the resources it needs to protect New Yorkers and adequately staff and inspect sites is paramount to increasing safety,” said Coletti.