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Rebuilding NYC Construction Safety Standards

New safety standards, the STEP program and digital learning, are impacting construction companies, their personnel, engineering and design firms, and all others along the supply chain in the NYC construction industry. The financial and operational implications of these changes are worthy of consideration.

NYC Construction Safety Reform
Reform would typically originate from OSHA and the District Attorney's office, the entities who govern safety standards for the industry. These agencies hold the General Contractor and Construction Management accountable, especially in the prequalification of subcontractors. Amongst their recommendations, increased safety planning prior to stepping onto jobs sites including higher certifications and law enforcement for work done involving scaffolding and elevator structures, better overall enforcement of laws,  and expansion of training and monitoring processes.

Prevention
As the saying goes, the best cure is prevention. Proper planning of not only how job sites operate but also how they are designed will make a world of difference. The Associated Builders and Contractors Inc. Safety Training Evaluation Process (STEP) program, is a leading set of safety best practices for the NYC construction industry. Initiatives such as cocooning an entire building during construction to protect from falling debris, advances in tethering to guarantee 100% fall protection, and digital innovations can shorten the learning curve and shield both workers and employers from costly and devastating accidents. Technological advancements from virtual reality training—which will reinforce key concepts to e-learning through mobile devices to deliver just-in-time safety tips to workers—will be at the forefront of these safety measures. Additional technological enhancements would also include the use of GPS tracking systems to keep abreast of everything and everyone on the job site at all times. Life vests may also be used to track how each worker is doing , i.e. are they experiencing fatigue, is the environment safe?, etc. It is recommended that foreman look for key indicators for depression, addiction, and suicidal behavior while on site.

To further educate those in the industry, ABC is also bringing a Safety Culture Academy to the NY area.

The Impact
Architects, designers, engineers, contractors and all firms along the supply change will feel some impact from these new safety standards, however, the costs of non-compliance rates much higher. It is imperative that owners understand that all of these risks, or even the threat of them, will either add considerable cost to the contract or decrease the potential profit one can make on any one specific job.

The good news is that since contractors are already mandated to comply with local, state and federal regulations, the up-front costs to the owners to implement and maintain safety standards is minor. If successful at safety implementation, and prevention of injury, the overhead costs of insurance and accident costs may be significantly reduced.

In the long term these developments will create a stronger and more productive operation at every touch point.

For more information on safety regulations within the construction industry, contact Carl Oliveri, Partner-in-Charge of Construction Practice of Grassi & Co., at coliveri@grassicpas.com or Robert Brewer, Partner-in-Charge of A&E Practice of Grassi & Co. at rbrewer@grassicpas.com.

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