DOB Announces Facade and Scaffold Safety Sweep

The DOB recently announced the launch of a seven-week façade and scaffold safety blitz. This campaign includes direct educational outreach to construction workers and industry professionals on scaffold safety, as well as inspection sweeps on façade work sites across the five boroughs. DOB inspectors will also now give construction contractors a detailed checklist of any deficiencies found with their scaffolding setup following required corner/angle scaffold safety inspections.

The backdrop: This safety campaign builds upon DOB’s efforts, announced in December of 2019, to strengthen its existing Façade Inspection & Safety Program (FISP) program, which aims to improve work site safety and hold bad actors accountable for not properly maintaining their buildings’ façades. The new safety campaign includes outreach directly to workers at 1,100 active construction sites across the city who are engaging in façade work. This part of the campaign is in response to the tragic death of a construction worker performing façade work in Midtown Manhattan last summer and other similar incidents.

What's next: The outreach will include:

  • DOB inspectors and community engagement staff distributing façade work safety information during field inspections of façade work sites;
  • Direct mailings of façade construction safety information to all contractors performing façade construction work in New York City;
  • Direct mailings to 500 Qualified Exterior Wall Inspectors (QEWIs), who are industry professionals that perform façade inspections in New York City; and
  • Direct mailings to more than 100 DOB-approved course providers who provide worker safety training.

To introduce this educational outreach campaign, DOB issued its first-ever Worker Alert. Directed towards construction workers, The Worker Alert provides practical situational safety information and straightforward guidance for those performing façade work.

Watch for: In addition to the educational outreach, the façade and scaffold safety blitz will include inspection enforcement sweeps throughout the city. DOB inspectors will do a proactive sweep of 1,100 work sites permitted to do façade repairs to verify site safety and compliance with city regulations. These inspections will be performed at buildings of all sizes, including:

  • A sweep of approximately 300 buildings six stories and under;
  • A sweep of around 500 buildings between seven and 14 stories; and
  • A sweep of about 300 tall buildings over 15 stories.

The context: Apart from this proactive enforcement sweep, DOB’s Façade Unit performs regular sweeps to ensure that all buildings that have filed unsafe façade inspection reports have installed public protection, where needed. The Façade Unit also performs corner/angle scaffold inspections in order to facilitate safe and proper scaffold installation as well as code compliance. It will now also be providing contractors with a checklist of any deficiencies found with regard to scaffolding set up following these inspections.

In recent years, the DOB has doubled the size of its Façade Inspection unit, requiring more hands-on inspections of buildings over six stories tall, increasing the frequency of DOB follow-up inspections of known unsafe façades, and greatly increasing penalties to building owners for noncompliance.