Bill to up safety training for construction workers passes City Council

Date: 10 Oct 2017

A hotly debated bill to require construction workers to take more safety training after a series of deaths on the job passed the City Council Wednesday.

The bill will require workers on most construction sites to receive at least 40 hours of safety training.

The real estate industry has fought the bill, saying it will be impractical and expensive to get all workers into the classes, while construction unions have pushed for it.

“Too many fatalities have occurred on construction sites in this city,” said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “We are not as a legislative body going to sit by and allow workers to continue to die, and for these construction sites that are unsafe to pose a risk to New Yorkers. We will not do that. And anyone that is asking us to do that is being negligent and irresponsible.”

The original version of the bill would have required most workers to go through an apprenticeship, which critics said was an unfair advantage to construction unions that run such apprenticeships. Many contractors opt to use cheaper, non-union workers.

The final version of the bill instead requires safety training, but waives the rule for workers who have done an apprenticeship if the city decides the program is equally extensive. It also allows workers to start work after ten hours of initial training, and complete the rest of the training while on the job.

The city expects to spend $5 million this year on training and $3-6 million on enforcement, costs that could rise over time.

“The legislation fails to address our concerns over how tens of thousands of workers will access safety training, how they will pay for it, what steps are being taken to curb fraud, and why all workers are not subject to the bill’s safety training requirements,” said Real Estate Board of New York president John Banks, warning the measure “will result in many fewer construction job opportunities for New Yorkers.”

Councilman Jumaane Williams (D-Brooklyn), who sponsored the bill, called REBNY’s approach to negotiations “abhorrent” and accused them of spreading “misinformation.”

“The only reason I can explain why people are still fighting this is a paraphrase from Rick James — that the love of money is a hell of a drug,” he said.


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