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The DOB and Enforcement of Contractor Licensing

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The New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) is responsible for enforcing the licensing requirements of construction industry trades such as electricians, architects and plumbers. It takes disciplinary action against individuals practicing their occupations without licenses, and publishes lists of violators. Using licensed professionals means that work performed will be done safely and to code, protecting the people who live and work in New York. It reduces the number of construction accidents and saves lives.

Tradespersons Working Without Licenses

The DOB list of tradespersons who should have licenses but do not includes sign hangers, electricians, plumbers, concrete testers, site safety managers, and filing representatives. In 2014, 19 individuals were fined for operating without required licenses.

In addition to fining individuals who should have licenses but do not, the DOB publishes a much shorter list of those who have licenses but have somehow violated the provisions of their licensure. The penalties are much stronger for this type of violation. For example, there are two plumbers on the list so far in 2015. One had his license suspended, the other put on probation for nine months and required to pay a fine. In 2014, five plumbers appeared on the list. Of these, one had his license revoked altogether.

Licensed Tradespersons Who Violated Their Licenses

The list of licensed electricians who violated their licenses is somewhat longer. In 2015, one voluntarily surrendered his license. In 2014, the DOB took action against eight electricians, four of whom surrendered their licenses. The others received fines and one year of probation.

Other license holders who violated the terms of their licensure in 2015 included workers with rigger and special rigger licenses, hoisting machine operator licenses, elevator inspector licenses, site safety master licenses, and master fire suppression piping contractor licenses.

Why is information like this important? First, by identifying those against whom the DOB has taken action, the safety of the construction industry is improved. Second, knowing they could appear on the list should motivate those who might be tempted to let their licenses lapse, never obtain one in the first place, or violate the terms of their license to follow the rules, and in the process, improve safety. Third, it provides a way for potential customers to check whether a tradesperson or contractor has the licenses he or she has reported when bidding on a job.

Takes Steps to be Safe. Hire Licensed Workers.

The bottom line here is safety. While nothing is guaranteed, licensed trades people are generally safer and will do a better job of complying with the specifications. There are many excellent licensed tradespersons in New York City and they are the professionals who will do the job safely and to specifications. Hire them!

This information is brought to you by the construction accident attorneys at Block O'Toole & Murphy. If you were injured while working construction or when passing by a worksite, contact us to learn if we can help.