If you look back at the numbers from 2012 for construction in New York City, you see a decidedly lighter construction schedule than you see now. For the first half of 2012, the Department of Buildings handed out 2,701 stop orders to construction companies. For the same period the following year, that number dropped to 2,511. But in recent months, the number of stop orders issued has been on the rise and there are several reasons for the increase.
The Genesis Of Stop Orders
A stop order is issued to companies with excessive safety violations on their job sites. Government inspectors determine when the working conditions are unsafe for workers. Inspectors shut the jobs down until the fines are paid and the working conditions are improved.
Before New York City mayor Bill de Blasio announced that there would be more government inspectors hired to help with the workload, stop orders were more costly to construction companies. The companies had to wait until the Department of Buildings could send out an inspector to get the job up and going again. The longer the companies had to wait, the more money it cost them.
A Closer Look At The Numbers
TheRealDeal.com breaks down the stop order numbers very nicely and shows us just how much the numbers have jumped in recent years. The stop orders numbers are:
- 2013 – 6,050 stop orders issued
- 2014 – 7,120 stop orders issued
- 2015 (up to and including December 18, 2015) – 8,326 stop orders issued
It has been pointed out that the rise in stop orders also mirrors the number of construction deaths in the city. From June 2014 to June 2015, as the number of stop orders was on the rise, the number of construction deaths in Manhattan alone grew from six to 11.
The Increase In Construction Projects
When there are more active construction jobs in New York City, then there is an increased risk of more worker injuries. While the ideal situation has construction companies focused on reducing safety violations and increasing productivity, the reality is that the number of stop orders goes up when there are more jobs underway.
At the beginning of 2016, the Department of Buildings hired more government inspectors and the increase in inspectors coupled with the increase in projects meant more stop orders. Inspectors generally watch repeat offenders closely because these are the companies with the histories of violating safety rules. Because the repeat offenders get the bulk of the attention, the number of stop orders goes up.
The Mayor Is Focused On The Construction Industry
It only took Bill de Blasio four months as being mayor of New York City to announce aggressive plans to create 200,000 new affordable housing units in all five boroughs over the span of 10 years. Bill de Blasio took office in 2014, so it appears to be no coincidence that the number of stop orders in 2014 jumped by 1,070 over the number of stop orders in 2013.
Mayor de Blasio has indicated on several occasions that he is focused on the construction industry in several different ways. He spearheaded the movement to hire 100 new government inspectors for the Department of Buildings. He has also been working closely with contractors and unions to try and fulfill his promise of new affordable housing. With his new focus on the construction industry, it seems logical that the laws would be more closely enforced and the number of stop orders would go up.
Increase In Safety Violations
New York City has seen a construction boom over the past couple of years, and the results have been mixed. There have been new construction jobs, as well as new affordable housing being built. But there is also an increase in safety violations that are putting workers at risk, and that means more stop orders.
The city is working directly with developers and unions to try and bring down the number of worker injuries, but the job is not easy. With the increase in work comes the increase in the number of repeat offender contractors that are getting larger projects. As New York City continues to see an increase in construction activity, it appears that more stop orders are a natural byproduct.