Site Safety Requirements and Their Effect on Façade Projects

By: Joseph Contreras 

Site Safety was first introduced in New York City as a mandated safety oversight by a qualified individual in constructing or demolishing a major building. “A major building was considered to be a structure which is 10 Stories or more, 125 feet or more [in height], or has a footprint of 100,000 SF” .  The Site Safety oversight requirement can also be mandated by the Commissioner of Buildings on structures which do not meet the above criteria, if deemed fit by the DOB. Originally this requirement was set in place to monitor the construction or demolition of larger projects, but in 2014 the requirements of Site Safety were also applied to larger exterior restoration and façade projects.

While some look at Site Safety oversight as an inconvenience, it’s important to remember that the intentions behind this oversight are to keep all affected parties safe. Often a qualified third party can assist in recognizing safety issues and forcing the implementation of corrective actions. This oversight is important because the “time equals money” construction industry, by nature, is dangerous and fast-paced. Site Safety oversight can help ensure that all necessary safety precautions are taken and that the job is being executed in compliance with OSHA regulations and NYC building codes.

As per the 2014 Code, “contractors or owners may opt to have a rigger, designated rigging foreman employed by the rigger, qualified person, or site safety manager [to] provide site safety oversight.”  This requirement mandates that either owners or contractors employ a Site Safety Manager to be designated on the PW-2 form and requires oversight of specific periods during a façade project. These specific periods include oversight prior to the start of the project or after any hazardous violations are reported. It is also mandated that during work, full-time site safety oversight is required by either a Site Safety Manager (SSM), Licensed Rigger or a Qualified Safety Person (QSP).

In January of 2015, the NYC DOB amended section 3310-01 of the NYC Building Code to include more comprehensive requirements for Site Safety oversight of façade projects on buildings 15 stories or greater, including a 35-point checklist designated solely for façade restoration projects. Prior to the amendment, the requirements for Site Safety oversight on façade projects only applied to full recladding projects. The change in the law now required building owners or contractors to budget for the additional costs associated with safety oversight when performing routine façade maintenance projects on buildings 15 stories or greater. This additional cost for safety oversight can greatly impact a project’s total cost.

Although a contractor may employ their own Site Safety oversight, an external safety company can be retained by the contractor or the building owner to fulfill this requirement. Since building owners can obtain multiple proposals from Site Safety companies, it’s likely they can hire Site Safety personnel at a more competitive price. However, as the project progresses, and potentially unforeseen conditions increase the scope of work or timeline of the project, the building owner will be responsible for any additional oversight costs. On the other hand, if the contractor is responsible for Site Safety and has an agreed upon proposal/contract with the building owner, the contractor is highly motivated to execute a project in a timely manner to avoid absorbing Site Safety expenses beyond what’s included in their agreement with the owner.

It’s important that Owners understand all Site Safety requirements, the agreement that is made with the contractor for safety oversight, and the responsibilities of all involved parties as it relates to Site Safety. This knowledge and preparedness can be critical to the successful completion of a large exterior restoration project.

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