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NYC Council Passes New Safety Bill

Monday, October 2, 2017

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New York City Council approved a bill last Wednesday (Sept. 27) after more than eight months of deliberation that will require at least 40 hours of safety training for construction workers.

The bill, named Intro 1447, was originally proposed in January by Councilman Jumaane D. Williams, and was backed by several entities including Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York.

© iStock.com / pidjoe

New York City Council approved a bill last Wednesday (Sept. 27) after more than eight months of deliberation that will require at least 40 hours of safety training for construction workers.

“Today is a historic moment in the progressive fight for a safer workplace,” Gary LaBarbera, president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, said in a statement.

It was heavily opposed, however, by many real estate and development groups who allege the bill unfairly targets minority, immigrant and small-firm workers who won’t have the resources to complete the training.

What’s the Plan?

The bill requires workers to complete 40 hours of safety training by December 2018. However, that timeline is not set in stone. The Department of Buildings could still determine that there aren’t enough training facilities available for workers to meet such a deadline. (The bill requirement means that about 100,000 workers have to take this training, and there are about 22 training facilities currently available.)

If the deadline is extended, it would see a September 2020 date. 

By March 2018, all workers have to complete the equivalent of OSHA 10—a 10-hour Occupational Safety and Health Administration course. From there, workers will complete 30 hours of training, followed by 10-25 additional hours that will be determined by the DOB. At least eight hours will focus on worksite falls, but a complete curriculum will be decided on by a 14-person task force of representatives from union and nonunion workers, as well as minority- and women-owned businesses.

© iStock.com / JANIFEST

At least eight hours will focus on worksite falls, but a complete curriculum will be decided on by a 14-person task force of representatives from union and nonunion workers, as well as minority- and women-owned businesses.

However, workers who have already undergone such training or completed a 100-hour course (most often in an apprenticeship) in the past five years are exempt.

The Concerns

That’s where the controversy has come into play, with certain groups charging that the bill gives an advantage to union workers. Although $5 million in tax money is planned to help pay for training each year, Real Estate Board of New York president John Banks says that’s not good enough.

“The first concern is simple: does New York City have the adequate capacity to train up to 120,000 non-union construction workers? The answer to this question is just a simple—no,” Banks wrote in a REBNY Watch column.

“Many of the up to 120,000 workers will be left at risk of not getting a contractor to pay for their training. With no sponsorship and insufficient public funding, these workers will need to pay for training out of their own pockets in order to keep working.”

Proponents maintain that it wasn’t a rushed job, and that new rules have been in the talks for years. The unanimous vote comes as construction deaths in the city are on a surge, something council says it can’t ignore.

The New York Times reported that council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito spoke before the vote saying, “We are not as a legislative body going to sit by and allow workers to continue to die. Anyone that is asking us to do that is being negligent and irresponsible. Bottom line.”

 

Editor's Note: A caption in this article was updated at noon on Oct. 2 to reflect the correct number of training hours proposed in Intro 1447.

   

Tagged categories: Fall protection; Health and safety; Laws and litigation; OSHA; Safety; Worker training

Comment from Jesse Melton, (10/2/2017, 11:35 AM)

The photo caption says workers will require 40 months of training. I'm pretty sure that's wrong.


Comment from Brandy Hadden, (10/2/2017, 11:44 AM)

That caption has been corrected. Thanks, Jesse!


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