Construction companies argue safety bill endangers local workers

Increased training requirements could be costly

Construction workers in Brooklyn (Credit:Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Construction workers in Brooklyn (Credit:Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Some contractors argue that a construction safety bill could make it difficult for companies to hire local workers.

The central issue is training: If workers are required to undergo more training than the 10 hours required by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, they may have to pay out of pocket and take time off of work — two things many can’t afford, some companies argue. The bill proposes increasing required training to 59 hours.

“Right now we’re doing pretty well with our local hiring, we’re about 50 percent with that project. If that legislation were to pass in in its initial form, we would not be able to meet that obligation,” Matt Gross, of Lettire Construction, told Politico. “My point is not to be anti-union … But yes, the majority of the guys, of the applicants that we see, are typically not in unions. But there are people who are, and they’re just unemployed.”

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Gary LaBarbera, president of the Building & Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, called concerns over local hiring “utter nonsense.

“A high bar for safety training will save lives and protect workers,” he said.

The latest version of the bill shifts many of the controversial issues in the original legislation to a new task force. The group will meet quarterly and provide safety recommendations to the Department of Buildings. The task force will also determine whether or not previous training will count toward new hourly requirements. [Politico] — Kathryn Brenzel