Council prepared to introduce construction-safety package

Construction firms, developers set to clash over requirement for apprenticeship programs
January 09, 2017 11:27AM

NYC City Hall and John Banks

The City Council is getting ready to introduce a package of bills in response to the recent uptick in accidents on construction sites.

The bills will require additional safety training, mandate an apprenticeship program, tackle how the Department of Buildings reports fatalities and develop a task force to look at the minority workforce, Politico reported.

The most contentious piece of the package is the requirement for contractors to hire workers who have gone through an apprenticeship program, which labor leaders support but developers criticize as a way to stem the rise of non-union labor.

“Ideas, like requiring state-approved apprenticeship programs, will only result in shutting down construction sites and putting people out of work,” Real Estate Board of New York president John Banks said. “We are committed to working with the City Council and others to improve safety at all construction sites in New York City.”

During the past two years, 30 workers have died at construction sites in the city, according to union leaders who cite federal statistics. Most fatalities occur among non-union workers at shorter buildings.

Late last month, a construction worker died when he fell down an elevator shaft at a 19-story condominium project on the Upper East Side. And earlier in the month a worker was killed at the Domino Sugar factory redevelopment in Williamsburg.

Patrick Purcell, the executive director of the Greater New York Laborers & Employers Cooperation & Education Trust, said the organization “will spare no expense” to ensure job sites are safe. Unions spent about $4 million in 2015 in an ad campaign to lobby for required wages on construction sites receiving the 421-a tax break.

“Construction sites throughout New York City must no longer be allowed to operate with minimal, and at times criminally negligent, levels of training,” he wrote in an email. [Politico]Rich Bockmann