NEW YORK CITY—The New York City Council unanimously passed a bill at its session on Wednesday that will require construction workers to undergo significantly more safety training.
The 42-0 Council vote was hailed by many politicos and some business leaders that sought the tougher training regulations in response to a rising number of construction accidents and worker fatalities at city jobsites.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio released a statement saying the passage of Intro. 1447-C “means that New York City hard hats will get the safety training they need for one of our city’s most dangerous jobs, and that will help get them home to their families at night and keep construction sites safe for everyone. My administration has worked closely with the City Council on this legislation, and together we are committed to building programs that ensure all workers—including day laborers and employees of small and MWBE construction firms—can access the training they need.”
Among some of the key provisions of the legislation include requiring construction workers to undergo between 40 hours to 55 hours of safety training. These hours will be delineated by the Department of Buildings and will be phased in over time.
The enacted legislation also allows workers to fulfill their training requirement by completing an alternative training program, such as an apprenticeship program, but only if the DOB determines that that program is equivalent to, or more extensive than, the standard safety training requirements.
Other provisions allow laborers to continue working while they complete training. After completing 10 hours of initial training, workers will be eligible for temporary cards that will authorize them to work on construction sites while they complete the rest of the required training.
The city has budgeted $4 million this year’s budget to help the estimated thousands of workers comprised of day laborers, employees of small businesses during the first year of the program. The cost for the training has been estimated at $1,000 per person. An additional $1 million has been reserved by the city to cover administrative costs of the program.
“I am proud of the City Council for taking this landmark step to help ensure that the safety of workers is a priority,” says Committee on Housing and Buildings Chair Jumaane Williams, who was co-sponsor of the legislation. “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. Additionally, 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.”
Most construction trades organizations supported the legislation. Among the critics of the bill has been the Real Estate Board of New York. After the bill’s passage, REBNY President John Banks, in a prepared statement, said that while it supports increased safety for both union and non-union workers in the city, “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 fraudulent safety cards, and why all workers are not subject to the bill’s safety training requirements.”
He added, “We welcome the opportunity to work with stakeholders to address these concerns that, if left unaddressed, will result in many fewer construction job opportunities for New Yorkers.”