First Ever Suspension of Contractor Registration for Multiple Construction Violations
More Discipline Coming for Construction Professionals that Endanger Public
Following his appointment at the Department of Buildings in August of 2014, Commissioner Chandler immediately set out to reform how the agency identifies, coordinates enforcement actions between agencies and disciplines problem construction professionals. Following the creation of a Risk Management Office, the development of a comprehensive construction professional discipline database and the recent release of an Industry Code of Conduct last month, the Department accomplished another priority outlined in its transformative Building One City initiative – the implementation of new proactive regulatory enforcement efforts through the suspension of a contractor’s registration for receiving multiple immediately hazardous violations over a 24 month period. The disciplinary action – part of an overall strategy of imposing greater accountability and integrity within the construction industry – comes following multiple cases in recent months where unscrupulous construction professionals have cut corners during projects to the detriment of workers or public safety.
Following an excavation failure on April 6, 2015 at 19 9th Avenue, the Department of Buildings in coordination with the Department of Investigation began reviewing the violation history of Kenneth Hart of Harco Consultants Corp. The Department conducted an administrative review of the contractor’s work history that resulted in the suspension of Mr. Hart’s General Contractor registrations on July 20, 2015 due to a pattern of risky behavior on his job sites. In addition, all sites using Harco as the contractor were issued stop work orders. The Department of Investigation in coordination with the Manhattan District Attorney launched a criminal investigation which resulted in today’s arrests of those working for Harco, and these individuals will now face charges. The coordination between the three agencies has resulted in administrative disciplinary hearings and criminal indictments that will help to make New York City safer, and the construction industry more accountable for misconduct.
Kenneth Hart was served on July 20, 2015 with a 33 page administrative discipline petition charging that over a 24 month period between January 1, 2013 and December 31, 2014 he accrued 30 violations deemed immediately hazardous to the public on 9 jobs sites throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. The charges range from a failure to put in place proper safeguards to protect the public and workers during ongoing construction to cutting corners on jobsites by not following approved work plans.
“It should be made clear with today’s arrests, as well as the suspension of Mr. Hart’s registrations, this Department will not tolerate conduct by construction professionals that puts workers or the public in danger, and will use every enforcement tool provided in the NYC Construction Codes to discipline bad actors,” said Buildings Commissioner Rick Chandler. “Targeting and suspending this contractor’s registration due to an extensive violation history is a significant step forward in meeting the Department’s goal to enhance our regulatory efforts over problem construction professionals. The industry should take notice; an attitude that violations are simply the cost of doing business will no longer be tolerated, the Department will be seeking to suspend or revoke licenses for those that repeatedly refuse to abide by the law.”
Under the NYC Administrative Code the Department is granted a wide array of disciplinary enforcement actions for construction professionals who fail to comply with the NYC Construction Code and the various other laws the agency is tasked with enforcing. In addition to the issuance of violations, the Department can place stop work orders on jobs, assess civil penalties, suspend and revoke licenses and where necessary refer cases for criminal enforcement agencies for prosecution.