Urban Construction: Building Code Requirements Improve Safety & Health
- Peter Simon (Total Safety Consulting)
- Document ID
- American Society of Safety Engineers
- Professional Safety
- Publication Date
- October 2017
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 40 - 44
- 2017. American Society of Safety Engineers
- 0 in the last 30 days
- 30 since 2007
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- Building codes are one measure communities use to protect people and property.
- Urban areas with dense populations, such as New York City, are particularly vulnerable to hazards related to building construction.
- To address these hazards, New York City now requires approved site safety plans and a licensed site safety manager on site during operations of major construction projects.
Throughout history building codes have been a means to protect people and property. History provides many examples of catastrophic losses of life and property attributable in part to building codes or lack thereof.
New York City (NYC) offers a classic example of how important building codes are in protecting residents’ safety and health. Regulation of construction operations is an aspect of building codes that is crucial in densely populated areas. NYC residents face increased risks of death or serious injury due to construction operations in areas with high population density, vertical high-rise construction, zero lot line construction and proximity to operations that require heavy materials and equipment.
In response to multiple high-profile incidents, city officials added a code requiring major construction projects to have an approved site safety plan and licensed site safety manager on site during operations. OSH literature supports this approach to increasing safety and health.
To the author’s knowledge, no other jurisdiction worldwide through its building code licenses site safety managers and requires their presence on site during construction operations. The city’s requirements are progressive and urban areas could improve safety and health by enacting similar requirements via their respective building codes.
Codes Borne Out of Disaster
Throughout history, communities have used codes and rules related to buildings to increase the population’s safety and health. For example, the Code of Hammurabi (circa 1772 B.C.) stated that if a builder constructs a house improperly and it collapses and kills the owner, then the builder should be put to death (Gross, 1996).
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