Building Trades, Features, Health and Safety, Law and Politics, New York, topslot

Extended Deadline For Enhanced Construction Safety Training Called ‘Unfortunate’, But Necessary

May 28, 2019

By Joe Maniscalco

Unionized construction workers carry symbolic coffins to protest the deaths in NYC’s construction industry.

New York, NY – In the fall of 2017, just before the City Council passed a new construction safety bill requiring additional hours of safety training, then Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said the legislative body was not going to sit around and watch workers die. But the deaths have continued, nonetheless.

On May 18, a construction worker fell 30 feet to his death at a Madison Avenue job site near Grand Central Terminal. 

Less than two weeks before, on May 8, the New York City Council agreed to extend the compliance deadline for that construction safety training bill initially passed in 2017. 

That original piece of legislation was introduced in response to the more than 40 New York City construction workers — the overwhelmingly majority of them nonunion — who died on the job over a two-year period.

Despite the outrageous death toll, forces representing NYC’s powerful real estate industry relentlessly pushed to block implementation of the construction safety bill, citing the high cost of adequately training nonunion workers — most of them from minority communities. 

Union construction workers, because of their years-long apprenticeships, are exempt from the new safety training requirements. 

In backing a new six-month extension to the original construction safety training bill passed two years ago, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said that the additional period of time will more allow for more workers to be trained. 

“We did not anticipate everything that would happen,” Williams told reporters just before the six-month extension was approved earlier this month. “We’ve gotten reports of workers actually getting fired instead being trained.”

According to Williams, DOB officials will know, just three months into the current extension, if another three months will be needed to get workers adequately trained. There is also the possibility that the extension period cold be expanded.

The public advocate said additional legislative action set to debut shortly will help more construction workers attain the required training. 

A spokesperson for Williams told LaborPress, “It’s unfortunate that an extension was necessary, but this measure— combined with other legislation that is expected to pass in the coming weeks— will help address the eroding culture of safety that has too often led to tragedy for the people who build our city.”

May 28, 2019

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