February 9, 2016
By Tara Jessup
New York, NY – Five years after receiving a scathing report to dramatically improve crane safety, the New York City Department of Buildings failed to implement dozens of vital recommendations, according to a 2014 audit report and November 2015 follow up document – released Saturday February 6th by New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer. At any one time there are about 300 large cranes operational in New York City.
“Crane safety is a crisis, but the City has not treated it like one,” Comptroller Stringer said. “There have been at least four significant crane collapses in New York City in just the past two and half years and yet dangerous, life-threatening conditions still exist. When cranes collapse, it shakes everyone’s confidence that we live in a City where people can feel safe and build their families and businesses.”
The Comptroller’s 2014 audit examined whether the Department of Buildings implemented the actions recommended in the $5.8 million High Risk Construction Oversight (HRCO) study, a report that the agency commissioned in July 2008 to improve worksite safety at construction sites. Additionally, the audit sought to determine whether recommendations were implemented in the timeframes stated by DOB in a follow up document known as the HRCO Implementation Milestones.
The Comptrollers audit found that more than four years after preparation of the report, DOB either failed to implement or failed to provide adequate proof that recommendations had been properly implemented. Only 8 of 65 (12 percent) safety recommendations had been fully implemented and there were serious weaknesses in the department’s oversight of the way it implements safety recommendations.
According to a November 2015 follow up report submitted to the Comptroller’s Office by DOB, the agency claimed to have begun to address the audit’s recommendations. However, in doing so, DOB acknowledged it would still not implement all of the HRCO's report recommendations. For example, one critical recommendation – that contractors and inspectors walk through building sites before construction – was not followed because it would “slow the construction process significantly.”