UPDATE: The New York City Council has approved a construction safety bill — Intro 1447 — requiring workers to complete a minimum of 40 hours of training over the next one to three years, The Real Deal reported. Workers who have undergone similar training or finished a 100-hour training program, such as through an apprenticeship, are exempt from the requirement.
The measure represents months of debate between union and nonunion groups over how much and what kind of training should be required to work on construction sites in the city. The final version of the bill reduces the required hours from 59, as suggested in an earlier draft, to 40, according to The Real Deal.
City trade unions supported the measure, while real estate developers and the non-union construction industry opposed it. The latter cite a general lack of training facilities and specific curriculum, as well as the cost of compliance for smaller companies and independent contractors.
Intro 1447 requires workers to complete the required training by December 2018, unless the city's Department of Buildings (DOB) finds the number of training facilities insufficient, in which case the deadline will be pushed back to September 2020. Workers must have completed the equivalent of an OSHA 10-hour course by March 2018.
New York has been a focal point for construction safety concerns after having experienced more accidents and fatalities over the last few years than is typical. In addition to the council's legislative effort, city officials have responded by coming up with various ways to improve worker safety conditions.
In 2015, York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance set up a construction fraud task force to investigate and prosecute unsafe practices and conditions on city job sites. Vance established the new division after a trench collapse killed 22-year-old immigrant worker Carlos Moncayo on a work site in Manhattan.
Prosecutors convicted general contractor Harco Construction of criminally negligent homicide and manslaughter in response to Moncayo's death and levied a $10,000 fine against the company. OSHA fined Harco an additional $100,000, and a foreman for Moncayo's employer, Sky Materials, was sentenced to one to three years in prison.
Union officials have long maintained their training makes workers and city job sites safer. That assertion led Jumaane Williams, city council member and chair of New York City's Committee on Housing and Buildings, to ask DOB officials to start tracking accidents according to union and nonunion sites.
Currently, a DOB-licensed Site Safety Coordinator must be present on projects underway in the city between 10 and 14 stories. A Site Safety Manager must also be on the job during construction of buildings 15 stories and higher, or more than 100,000 square feet.
Foreshadowing the logjam that could be created by a new training requirement, some developers say they have struggled to find enough of the licensed professionals while others have been delayed in starting their projects as a result of the requirement.