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Delayed Complaint-Driven DOB Inspections Could Lead to Injuries

February 3, 2021
construction person

According to the New York City Comptroller, the Department of Buildings (DOB) promotes the safety of everyone who works, builds, and lives in New York City, and their role in this involves regulating lawful uses of more than a million construction sites and buildings throughout the five boroughs. Members of the public can report their concerns related to dangerous and/or illegal construction and to the improper use of buildings to DOB, and DOB prioritizes these complaints from A to D – with performance targets in place for each.

When DOB fails to meet these targets, construction workers and other members of the public can pay a high price. If you’ve been injured on the job as a construction worker, seek the professional legal guidance of a dedicated NYC construction accident attorney.

From A to D

Complaint priority grades include the following:

  • Priority A – Priority A complaints refer to hazards that present a clear and current risk to public safety. A shaking building is a good example, and complaints of this magnitude should be inspected within 24 hours.
  • Priority B – Priority B complaints refer to serious hazards that don’t present an imminent threat to public safety (inadequate scaffolding, for example), and these are flagged for inspection within 40 days.
  • Priority C and D – Priority C complaints refer to violations considered non-hazardous by DOB (a building without a certificate of occupancy, for example), and Priority D complaints relate to quality-of-life issues (illegal curb cuts, for example). DOB has an inspection deadline of 60 days for priority C complaints and no established timeframe for responding to priority D complaints.

Making Improvements

The Comptroller finds that DOB’s system for handling public complaints needs improvement in order to help protect the public from injury risk. Specifically, these improvements should include more timely responses and follow up for complaints at every stage in the process. Consider all of the following:

  • In a significant number of cases, DOB missed its own performance benchmarks for priorities A, B, and C.
  • In fiscal year 2019, DOB missed thousands of initial inspection deadlines, and the delays ranged from periods of one to 348 days.
  • When DOB inspectors can’t gain the necessary access to make an inspection, they are required to make a second attempt, but there is no time frame in place for doing so.
  • Using the initial time frames as guidelines, nearly a quarter of second-inspection attempts for priority A complaints were untimely.
  • Finally, more than half of the immediately hazardous violations issued by DOB were not followed up with timely re-inspections – or were followed up at all in some cases.

DOB’s practices leave the public at increased risk of being injured by safety infractions that are not afforded timely and adequate attention. 

Turn to an Experienced New York City Construction Accident Lawyer Today

If you’ve been injured on the job as a construction worker, the New York City construction accident attorneys at Lipsig, Shapey, Manus & Moverman have the experience, resolve, and legal insight to help. For more information, please don’t hesitate to contact us online or call us at 212-285-3300 today.


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