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Demand for Changes in Construction Industry’s Safety Regulations Gets Stronger in New York City.

All News
By Indranil Bhattacharjee
September 10, 2014

 

According to claims made by the city’s construction industry, several cash rich jobs have been halted because of inadequacies in the safety regulations of the construction industry.   

 

New York City, September 10, 2014

 

The construction industry heavyweights in New York City are now raising their voice demanding changes in the city’s safety regulations. It has been alleged that hundreds of construction related jobs in New York are on hold due to the shortcomings of these safety regulations.

Howard Zimmerman, a city based architect, states that as many as twenty of his company’s jobs are presently on hold because the city’s safety inspectors are not available as they were booked several months in advance. “We’re in a boom cycle right now and projects literally are stopped in their tracks or can’t get started,” he says. 

Joseph Albunio represents The Safety Group, a Manhattan based organization offering safety inspector courses.  Summing up the present scenario, Joseph says, “I get four phone calls a day for a safety manger. I could have 100 more jobs going.”

 Unfortunately, most of the applications received for construction supervisor’s position are sent by applicants that lack the required background. In case of all buildings with more than 15 floors, regulations require an inspector to remain on site to review and evaluate all safety equipment used.  Last month criminal charges were slapped on two construction companies for hiring cooks and hairdressers to pose as safety inspectors.  

According to the Department of Buildings, the city presently has only around five hundred inspectors that are active. Zimmerman feels that the severe lack of licensed inspectors is one of the reasons behind such fraudulent activities. “If 20 people are calling you up and saying, ‘I need site safety, I need site safety,’ a lot of the less scrupulous people say, ‘I can get my brother-in-law or sister-in-law to do this,’ ” he says.   

New York City Special Riggers Association, a group that Howard Zimmerman belongs to, is presently working with the Department of Buildings to craft a memo that will allow managers to undo changes that were made to the code in 2008. Prior to these changes, supervisors were required only for the new jobs. However, after 2008, the presence of supervisors became a mandate even for the restoration projects.

Attorney Jeffrey Shapiro, a representative of injured construction workers is completely against the idea of eliminating the authority of independent inspectors. “If the city abandons its roles in insuring safety on the job sites . . . it will be the workers who pay for it by getting hurt,” he said.

 The Department of Buildings spokesperson Alexander Schnell stated, “The department is aware of the need for an increase for site safety inspectors.”