BY SÍLE MOLONEY

crane
Photo by Alex Ronsdorf on Unsplash

The New York City area has had severe weather since June 30th, including isolated thunderstorms with gusts of wind up to 70 miles per hour, and this may last until Friday, July 2nd. Accordingly, the New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) is reminding all builders, contractors, crane operators and property owners to secure their construction sites, buildings and equipment.

The department conducts random checks on construction sites across the city. If locations are not secured, the birthing center takes immediate enforcement measures – violations and work stoppages if necessary.

The wind can reach higher speeds and last longer than forecast in certain areas of the city. Property owners must consider the safety of their buildings and construction sites, including cranes, hanging and supported scaffolding, elevators, and any other building accessory that can come loose in high winds. Buildings that have received delayed maintenance or are in a fragile condition could be at higher risk. The department suggests calling in a specialist to secure construction sites and buildings.

To protect construction sites, builders, contractors, and developers should take all precautions, including but not limited to the following:

  • Tying and securing of material and loose rubble on construction sites;
  • protect electrical devices from the elements;
  • Store loose tools, oil cans and extra fuses in a tool box;
  • secure nets, scaffolding and sidewalk sheds;
  • Stop crane operation and secure crane equipment when wind speeds reach 30 mph or more;
  • stop hoist operation and secure external hoists when wind speed reaches 35 mph or greater, unless manufacturer specifications indicate otherwise;
  • Support and secure construction fences;
  • and call 911 if there is an emergency on a construction site.

Leaflet 2015-029 of the department describes the requirements for vertical nets, rubble nets and fall protection on buildings and construction sites.

To secure a building, property owners should take every precaution, including but not limited to the following:

  • Bring loose, light items such as lawn furniture, potted plants, trash cans, garden tools, and toys.
  • Anchor items that would be unsafe outside, such as gas grills or propane tanks.
  • Close and secure the umbrellas.
  • Safe retractable awnings.
  • Remove antenna antennas and satellite television dishes.
  • Dismantle tents or follow the manufacturer’s instructions to secure them.

In Williamsbridge Oval Park in Norwood, a heavy branch fell on Thursday morning, July 1, 2021, after the storm on Wednesday around 10 a.m., which just missed passing pedestrians.
Photo by Síle Moloney

New Yorkers are encouraged to call 311 to report non-compliant conditions or 911 to report construction or construction emergencies. New Yorkers who suspect that a building or property has been structurally damaged should call 911.

Under Section 28-301.1 of the New York City Administration Act, property owners are required by law to maintain their properties in a safe condition.

Ministry officials stressed that DOB weather warnings are just a courtesy to remind property owners to prepare their properties for severe weather and should not be understood to mean that the department, and not the property owner, is responsible for the maintenance of their property.

A heavy tree branch fell at 10 a.m. on Thursday, July 1 in Williamsbridge Oval Park, narrowly missing passing pedestrians after Wednesday’s storm.

More storms are predicted before Independence Day.