Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Construction industry forms safety group

The New York City Construction Industry Safety Council will establish a tower crane maintenance database that contractors will be able to consult before renting equipment.

July 01. 2008 2:32PM Daniel Massey

Buck Ennis

In the wake of two deadly crane accidents since March, the city’s construction industry on Tuesday announced the formation of an independent organization to promote safety on work sites across the five boroughs.

The 17-member New York City Construction Industry Safety Council will be made up of the city’s largest contractors, the Building and Construction Trades Council of New York, the Real Estate Board of New York and many of the trade associations that represent the construction industry. The council will bring industry leaders together for the first time to share safety procedures and expertise.

"Development cannot take place at the expense of public safety, and it’s going to take the industry’s cooperation to make construction sites safer," acting building commissioner Robert Limandri said in a statement. "The formation of the NYC Construction Industry Safety Council is a step toward that end, and I look forward to real results that raise the safety standards on job sites.”

The new group will be funded by its members, who, so far, have raised $500,000 to get it off the ground.

“We recognize that construction safety isn’t just a story because there was an accident,” said Steven Spinola, president of REBNY. “This is a long-term commitment to safety.”

The creation of the council comes as the city’s Buildings Department is preparing to propose a new series of crane safety regulations that will focus on maintenance and repair records. The City Council is also considering comprehensive construction-safety legislation.

The safety council’s first task will be to establish a tower crane maintenance database that contractors will be able to consult before renting equipment.

“Many of you have heard of the Car Fax system where you can go online and find out the maintenance information on any used car you’re going to buy,” said Louis Coletti, president and chief executive of the Building Trades Employers’ Association. “The concept is the same: a crane system to be able to get up-to-date information on cranes as they are delivered from site to site.”

The group will also research safety practices being used across the country and around the world and urge governmental agencies to adopt safety standards that all contractors should follow. For the first time, the group will bring contractors together to share safety information with each other.

"It used to be that our safety plan is a proprietary plan, my competitors’ safety plans are proprietary plans,” said Daniel Tishman, president and CEO of Tishman Construction Corp. “We’re now prepared to share best practices with each other relative to safety. Safety plans should not be a marketing advantage.”

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