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NYC Mayor Signs Controversial Safety Bill

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

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Early last week, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed into law a controversial bill on worker safety, effectively mandating that 180,000 city construction workers need 40-55 hours of safety training before December 2018.

What Happened

The bill, named Intro 1447, was originally proposed in January by Councilman Jumaane D. Williams, and was backed by several entities including the Greater New York LECET, the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York and the New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO.

© iStock.com / pidjoe

Early last week, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed into law a controversial bill on worker safety, effectively mandating that 180,000 city construction workers need 40-55 hours of safety training before December 2018.

The bill is in response to an 18 percent increase in construction-related injuries in the last fiscal year (up to 622 from 526). So far this year, eight NYC construction workers have died on jobsites—39 deaths since 2014.

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.

NYC Council unanimously approved the bill on Sept. 27, and de Blasio followed suit on Oct. 16.

“It’s just not acceptable to lose a life when we could save that life. It’s heartbreaking, it’s painful, it leaves a horrible reality for a family left behind,” de Blasio said at a signing ceremony.

“And too often these work sites were not managed the way they should have been—bluntly, in the name of greed.”

The Plan & Concerns

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 at least 30 more hours of training by December 2018. 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

The bill is in response to an 18 percent increase in construction-related industries in the last fiscal year (up to 622 from 526). So far this year, eight NYC construction workers have died on jobsites—39 deaths since 2014.

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.

That’s where the controversy has come into play, with certain groups charging that the bill gives an advantage to union workers. Real Estate Board of New York President John Banks also argued that the bill doesn’t do enough to ensure that all workers will have access and funding for training

Williams, however, says that the council did respond to all of those concerns and has noted that $5 million in tax money is planned to help pay for training that will be available at 22 locations. Extensions for the December hour requirements will also be made available.

“It wasn’t meant to make anyone—to cut anyone out of the construction field,” Williams said. “It was to make sure that everyone that was here was safe.”

   

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

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