Monday, June 2, 2008

New York Inspector Hirings
Since the Crane Incidents

The article from The New York Daily News by Robert Limandri is very commendable that the City is making some efforts to strengthen their Safety Inspection personnel and training. It seems to me that one thing that would be to take the Horse Sense route and force contractors to show evidence that all their heavy equipment (Cranes, excavation equipment, etc.) have been PROPERLY trained, both by written examinations and operation experience before placing them in the operator's seat and start "pulling levers."

The Federal OSHA people should get on the ball and complete the new standards for this type equipment operation and maintenance. This would be a huge step in assisting State and City Safety organizations by having a "Cross over" system where construction projects cross jurisdictional lines. In many cases, personnel may travel very long distances from their home state to do construction work. This would alleviate some of these problems.

Incidents in large cities or other congested situations would be aided by a nationwide system to be assured that ALL operators have been properly trained.

Many "small" as well as large contractors will allow almost anyone to jump into the seat of a piece of equipment and start "pulling levers."

Challenges of a building boom

Sunday, June 1st 2008, 4:00 AM

Construction in New York City and the City's Buildings Department bear little resemblance to what they were a decade ago when the development boom began.

The construction boom - unprecedented in reach across all five boroughs - has been a challenge for the Buildings Department. In the midst of growing demand, our buildings inspectors, enforcement officials, architects, engineers and dedicated support staff have raced to make their agency transparent, efficient and accountable.

But Friday's deadly accident and the number of construction fatalities and accidents that have already occurred this year demonstrate that more must be done to protect the city's construction workers and all New Yorkers.

We are charging ahead with new initiatives to increase construction safety:

* We are building our special enforcement plan, an aggressive program of 10 new oversight and enforcement teams - 144-staffers strong - to zero in on at-risk areas of construction that demand our heightened oversight.

* We are launching an unprecedented study with a $4 million investment to retain specialized field engineers to fully examine and analyze the way the industry operates in high-risk crane, concrete and excavations operations - while simultaneously assessing how the Buildings Department oversees and enforces safety requirements within those operations.

* We are working on a legislative package to provide our staff with the tools they need to track contractors more effectively and to better hold responsible parties accountable for dangerous construction.

But the department alone cannot guarantee accident-free construction.

Contractors have the non-negotiable responsibility to ensure construction safety, and the Buildings Department must hold them to this. Developers, contractors and the highly skilled workers who build New York City must work with us to ensure that every construction site operates safely, with well-trained workers and properly maintained equipment.

New Yorkers know that New York City's tightly packed urban environment poses challenges that few other cities face.

We know our teeming streets and sidewalks leave little room for error. Yet we also know that thousands of new buildings are constructed each year without incident, without injury. The vast majority of construction is safe.

But New Yorkers should not have to tolerate toppling tower cranes and flying debris. Raising the construction industry's safety standards and level of care is our primary focus: and it must seep into the hearts and minds of every party involved in every operation, every day.

Improving New York City's construction safety requires commitment from government and industry. The Buildings Department has razed and rebuilt itself. Mayor Bloomberg has expanded our force and our funding. The City Council has better empowered us with stronger legislation. In addition, we are asking every segment of the construction industry to come forth - with their ideas, their expertise and experience - to help us raise the standards for construction safety.

New Yorkers are justifiably angry when seemingly predictable accidents happen - and when seemingly preventable accidents wreak havoc on our families and neighborhoods. The steps we are taking to advance construction site safety are imperative. Safety is about the value of human life and construction safety is about the value of our construction workers, passersby and neighbors. Each has a right to go home at night. New Yorkers deserve no less.

LiMandri is acting NYC buildings commissioner.

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