Does Anybody See Those On-Line NYC Buildings Department Advisories to Take Precautionary Steps at Construction Sites In Preparation for Gusts Of High Wind?

New York City didn’t get the snowstorm forecasted for this past weekend, but the City Department of Buildings issued whats become its customary and standard warning to contractors to secure construction sites when the forecast calls for severe weather and gusts of high winds.

A review of the Buildings Departments website reveals that it has been routinely issuing such advisories on-line for several years. Yet just 2 weeks ago a 15-block area near City Hall Park was closed to pedestrians and traffic after high winds scattered debris from a nearby construction site where a 77-story tower is being built on Spruce Street. A piece of metal was found two blocks away at City Hall Park. The building received nine other violations over the past six months for failing to keep the construction area free of debris, and other issues.

The Buildings Department warning reminds all builders, contractors, and property owners to secure their construction sites and buildings. It warns that the Department will be performing random spot-check inspections of construction sites around the city, and that if construction sites are not safely secured, the Department will take immediate enforcement action with the issuance of violations and Stop Work Orders if necessary. The warning also reminds property owners that they are legally obligated to maintain their properties in a safe condition under 28-301.1 of the Administrative Code of the City of New York. It is careful to stress that the warning is strictly a courtesy to remind property owners to prepare their properties for inclement weather and cannot be read to suggest that the Department, rather than the property owner, is responsible for maintaining his or her property.

The warning lists specific precautionary measures that builders, contractors and developers should take as a minimum to secure construction sites, including: Tie down and secure material and loose debris at construction sites. Cover electrical equipment from exposure to the weather. Store loose tools, oil cans and extra fuses in a tool box. Secure netting and scaffolding. Suspend crane operations and secure crane equipment. Secure exterior construction elevators. Brace and secure construction fences. Call 911 if there is an emergency on a construction site.

To secure a building, property owners should take all precautionary measures including but not limited to the following: Bring inside loose, lightweight objects such as lawn furniture, potted plants, garbage cans, garden tools and toys. Anchor objects that would be unsafe inside, such as gas grills or propane tanks. Close up and secure patio umbrellas. Secure retractable awnings. Remove aerial antennas and satellite television dishes. Where snow, ice or freezing temperatures are in the forecast, the Buildings Departments warning also includes the following: Ensure concrete materials are heated in a compliant manner to prevent frost. Cease using frozen materials or materials containing ice. Safely remove ice and snow from roofs and gutters.

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