- The Associated Builders and Contractors Empire State Chapter has petitioned the New York City Council to implement mandatory drug and alcohol testing for all city construction workers, according to Real Estate Weekly.
- The ABC has requested that testing be made part of Intro. 1447, which is the same controversial bill that includes that requirement that all New York City construction workers complete an apprenticeship program before being allowed to work on city job sites.
- While the ABC insists the drug testing measure would increase safety, building trade unions have long opposed mandatory testing and said there's no reason to believe that drugs and alcohol have played a role in the increased incidences of injuries and deaths during the last few years.
The ABC pointed out in a letter to City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and City Council Member Jumaane Williams that drug testing is commonly required in industries that are less dangerous than construction. Gary LaBarbera, president of the Building and Construction Trades Council, said in a statement that the ABC's letter is "nothing more than a diversionary attempt by irresponsible developers and nonunion contractors to scapegoat workers, shift the blame to victims, and cover up for their own poor safety record which puts profits over worker safety."
OSHA saw major industry pushback last year when it issued its final electronic recordkeeping rule, which included the "anti-retaliation" provision that prevents employers from conducting drug and alcohol tests after an accident. Pro-testing advocates say that it's a necessary tool that can be used in accident prevention, but the agency maintains that it is a violation of privacy and prevents employees from reporting accidents. The rule went into effect on Dec. 1.
The council has already approved six of a collection 21 construction safety bills introduced after New York City experienced an uptick in worker injuries and fatalities amid a building boom. The new measures require increased injury reporting, institute new crane safety rules and mandate that projects four stories or higher have a safety plan and superintendent on site.