The Departments of Buildings: Worker and Civilian Safety


The New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) works throughout the city overseeing and monitoring construction projects. This department ensures that construction sites are safe, buildings are well-constructed, and that property managers and owners keep their property up to code.

The DOB helps keep construction workers and civilians stay safe across the five boroughs through their continued efforts to improve and enforce construction safety. Although you may not be familiar with the DOB if you are a member of the construction industry, this department plays an essential role in every aspect of the building process.

However, keeping the city safe is a difficult job that requires the cooperation and support of construction works, contractors, and the residents of New York City. When workers or their employers and do not uphold the codes and regulations the DOB provides, a building or construction site can pose a serious threat that could cause a devastating accident.

The New York construction accident attorneys at Finz & Finz P.C. have provided the following information to help you understand the important work the Department of Buildings does to keep you safe.

Despite the ongoing efforts to protect worker and civilian safety, construction site accidents are still an unfortunately common occurrence. If a construction accident injured you or a loved one, Finz & Finz P.C. is prepared to help you seek substantial compensation. Contact our skilled attorneys today at 855-TOP-FIRM for a free case evaluation.

What Does the Department of Buildings Do?

The DOB was created to enforce construction codes and zoning compliance throughout New York City. However, the department has grown and expanded to provide a wide variety of services during each part of constructing and maintaining a building. The DOB is composed of 40 specialized units to assess safety, oversee construction projects, and collect building data across the city.

Although there are a wide variety of tasks the DOB performs, some of the most common ways the DOB is involved during construction include:

  • Building plan review and approval
  • Providing construction permits and licenses
  • Inspecting buildings during and after construction
  • Tracking current construction in the city
  • Offering construction site training and public education
  • Ensuring code and zoning compliance

Although these are all a standard part of the DOB’s job, this department also plays an important role in the event of serious construction or building accidents. The DOB employs an emergency response team to assist the city’s first responders if an accident occurs. Professionals at the DOB will investigate after the incident and provide an in-depth analysis. This information helps determine the cause of the accident and create preventative measures for the future.

How Does the Department of Buildings Keep Workers Safe?

The DOB works closely with construction workers and their employers to ensure that the worksite is as safe as possible. The primary way the DOB keeps workers safe is through frequent inspections and construction site visits, ensuring that the construction project does not violate the city’s safety or building codes.

Unfortunately, many construction companies and contractors may cut corners or disregard safety regulations, in an attempt to save money and finish construction more quickly. These choices are reckless and place workers and civilians in danger. If the DOB finds that a construction site is not upholding the city’s codes and strict safety standards, they will cite the project manager or construction company for the violation.

Some of the common safety violations that may occur on construction sites include:

  • Improper permits or zoning
  • Unsafe scaffolding or platforms
  • Failure to provide workers with safety gear
  • Improper use of equipment
  • Failure to provide adequate worker training
  • Lack of construction site signage
  • Inadequate fall protection

Depending on the type and severity of the violation, the construction company may face a variety of consequences for their negligent behavior, including fines or an order to vacate the property until the problems are resolved. The DOB may also issue a criminal court summons in the event of severe misconduct.

Typically, these violations remain on the company’s record for years after the incident, impacting their reputation and ability to perform construction in the future. The DOB’s work helps decrease the likelihood of a dangerous construction site accident, which could seriously harm workers.

How Does the Department of Buildings Keep Civilians Safe?

Even once construction is complete, the DOB ensures that the building is well-maintained and that managers are upholding appropriate health and safety standards. The types of safety measure a building must uphold vary, depending on the type of service the building provides.

However, some of the most common violations business owners are cited for include:

  • Incorrect waste removal
  • Inadequate or ineffective fire safety mechanisms
  • Poor sanitation
  • Pest control
  • Failure to perform elevator maintenance or inspection

The DOB’s continual building inspections help keep you and your loved ones safe in every business, apartment, or office building that you enter. In addition to routine building monitoring, the DOB also oversees and addresses safety concerns that may occur after years of building use, including:  

  • Crumbing exteriors
  • Structural instability
  • Poor roof support
  • Replacement of unsafe materials such as lead or asbestos
  • Shifting foundation

These dangerous situations could make a building unsafe to use and may ultimately cause a serious accident. The DOB identifies and addresses these issues before they cause a problem, preventing serious injuries whenever possible.

Contact a New York Construction Accident Attorney

The Department of Buildings performs essential tasks that help keep buildings safe, from the start of construction planning until the building’s final use. When everyone obeys the regulations set out by the DOB, New York City construction and buildings become safer for both workers and civilians.

However, even one negligent action during construction or building maintenance could cause you or a loved one serious harm. The New York construction accident attorneys at Finz & Finz P.C. are prepared to help you seek compensation if a construction accident injured you or a loved one. Start working on your case today by calling Finz & Finz P.C. at 855-TOP-FIRM or filling out our online contact form.

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Finz & Finz, P.C. is a New York and Long Island personal injury law firm based out of Mineola, NY. It was founded in 1984 and is highly rated, with many honors and awards of excellence.