NEW YORK, NY
Today, the City Council unanimously passed Int. 1447-C, a landmark construction safety bill sponsored by Council Member Jumaane D. Williams (D-Brooklyn), Deputy Leader and Chair of Council's Housing and Buildings Committee, which will institute mandatory construction worker safety training standards.
Council Member Jumaane D. Williams
a prime sponsor of the bill, celebrated its passage as a critically important and long awaited step toward changing the culture of a construction industry that devalues worker safety and well-being.
"I am proud of the City Council for taking this landmark step to help ensure that the safety of workers is a priority. Requiring a uniform baseline amount of safety training is a long overdue and critically important measure to having a tangible impact on worker's well-being," Williams said. "This action begins to address the eroded culture of worker safety in the New York City construction industry, an erosion that has led to unsafe conditions, injuries, and death."
The bill mandates that workers have a cumulative total of 40-55 hours of training, phased in over time. The first ten hours must be completed by March of 2018, thirty hours by December 1 of that year, and 40-55 within five months of that date. Extensions can be granted to the second and third milestone if necessary. A task force has been created to help facilitate the training and determine its content in conjunction with the Department of Buildings.
"I want to thank Speaker Mark-Viverito and my colleagues on the Council for recognizing necessity to make worker safety an immediate priority," said Council Member Williams. "Our efforts over these months, and in passing this bill today, will have a lasting impact on the health and safety of our workers." The bill was widely praised on the floor of City Council Chambers during its passage.
"As Chair of the City Council Committee on Immigration, I have a special responsibility to speak out for immigrant workers who lack access to training and workplace protections," said
Council Member Carlos Menchaca,
the co-prime sponsor of the bill. "Intro 1447 will set new construction safety training standards and save lives. No other industry tolerates such high levels of danger, and there is no justification for delay imposing strict new training requirements. Our construction safety emergency must end now. New York City has endured an unacceptably high number serious injuries, preventable incidents and 39 construction worker deaths since 2015. I commend my Council colleagues for recognizing that construction worker safety is achievable. I call on New York City developers, contractors and agencies to adopt a culture of construction safety through worker education and strict enforcement of workplace regulations."
"The wellbeing 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," said
Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. "I thank Council Member Williams and Council Member Menchaca for their dedication to making construction sites safer for everyone - from the people who live and work near them, to the workers who build them. The Council will continue to look for productive ways to improve safety standards and protect workers and the public."
The need for dramatic shifts toward focus on worker safety became even more evident just last Thursday, when two workers were killed and one injured in accidents on separate construction sites in Manhattan. At the time, Williams called for more to be done to "protect those who build this great city" adding that
"No other industry would be allowed to witness such death" without the kind of change that this bill is aimed at instigating.
The measures passed also address the reality in the construction industry that responsibility for worker safety does not sufficiently extend to owners and developers. It escalated obligations for those parties and imposes fines of up to $5,000 per untrained worker.
The passing of this bill comes with a $5 million dollar commitment by the City Council to help ensure access to the training for all workers, regardless of affiliation.