New York City Buildings Department Releases 2011 Annual Report
The 2011 Annual Report, released last month, touts New York City as the nation’s safest big city in 2011. 2011 marked a near-historic low number of fire fatalities, a 10th consecutive year of fewer than 600 murders, a record-breaking low number of traffic deaths — and an 18% decrease in construction-related accidents, which follows an almost 28% reduction in 2010 from 2009. Construction-related injury rates also continue to improve. There were approximately 8% fewer injuries in 2011 over 2010, following a nearly 32% decline in 2010 from 2009. Construction-related fatalities remained low, with five caused by falls or shoddy construction. The Buildings Department issued 23% fewer Stop Work orders.
The NYC Buildings Department highlights its specialized enforcement. For example, engineers with the Forensic Engineering Unit are focusing on the Second Avenue subway construction zone — which contains 800 buildings that may be affected by the project. In total, FEU engineers performed 611 investigations last year, from building collapses to structures damaged by a fatal fire. The Cranes and Derricks Unit performed 4,945 inspections during 2011, 5% more than in 2010. The Special Operations and Enforcement Inspections performed 32,363 inspections citywide last year, up 12% from 2010.
The Experience Is Not Enough safety campaign reminds work crews that safety harnesses and guardrails save lives — and that workers must protect themselves, no matter how long they’ve been in construction. Since April 2011, more than 15,000 bracelets, banners and posters in English, Spanish, Chinese, Polish and Russian have been distributed.
Following the elevator accident at 285 Madison Avenue in December 2011, the Department undertook the most extensive sweep of elevators in City history. This citywide initiative was part of what the Department calls its new, aggressive enforcement approach, which includes crane and façade sweeps and undercover illegal conversion inspections. There are 60,000 elevators in New York City, and every property owner is required to perform two tests on each device every two years.
The Annual Report contains some statistics. There are 975,000 buildings and properties in New York City. The Buildings Department has 1,041 employees, 317 inspectors, 172 plan examiners and 9 Department Offices.
In 2011 there were 405,508 plan reviews, 417,123 311 Calls, 293,778 inspections, 143,999 work permits, 56,472 violations, 10,142 licenses + registrations, 6,531 Certificates of Occupancy, 5,189 Stop Work Orders and 1,523 new building permits.
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