The New York City Council has just approved legislation to up their safety training requirements from just 10 hours to 40 hours by September 2020. At least 40 workers lost their lives just this past year on construction sites throughout the city.
In an effort to combat the growing number of construction fatalities, NYC Council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito says, “The well-being of all New Yorkers is paramount, and legislation to ensure safety on and around the hundreds of construction sites that operate each day in our city has been long overdue.”
This all began back in 2015, when thousands of union workers gathered for a rally near City Hall. A large number of deaths and injuries on construction job sites led them to urge officials to adopt stronger safety measures, and within months the City Council assembled hearings. Fines were quadrupled in some cases, and new bills intended to beef up safety eventually became law.
In recent years, accidents on construction sites have been climbing. Victims of such accidents include poorly trained, undocumented immigrants. An investigation by the New York Times in 2015 on construction fatalities revealed that “the surge in deaths and injuries far exceeded the growth rate of new construction over a comparable period, and that in the cases in which workers died, supervision was inadequate, and basic steps had not been taken to prevent workers from falling.” The urgency to finish projects is the main issue. “Workers who often lacked adequate training had to take dangerous shortcuts,” which means most deaths are completely avoidable.
Mayor Bill de Blasio says “the safety of construction workers is a top priority for his administration.” John Banks, president of the Real Estate Board of New York, says, “We support increasing safety at every construction site across New York City in a practical and feasible manner for both union and nonunion workers.”