NYC mayor signs controversial worker training bill
- New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed into law Monday Intro 1447, a divisive measure that requires construction workers in New York City to undergo at least 40 hours of safety training, according to the New York Daily News.
- The new law requires workers to complete an Occupational Safety and Health Administration-approved 10-hour safety course or its equivalent by March 2018 and the remainder of training hours by December 2018. If the city's Department of Buildings determines there are not enough training centers to meet demand, then the deadline will be pushed back to December 2020.
- Workers who have completed union apprenticeships or other training programs that are similar to what the new rule requires are exempt. New York City real estate developers and non-union construction companies, in general, have opposed the law, maintaining that it will be too expensive for smaller companies to comply. The city will kick in $5 million to help small, minority-owned and women-owned businesses meet the training mandate.
In the text of the new rule, New York City lawmakers suggest a variety of topics that should be made part of the required training. The list includes fall protection, demolition and excavation, which are also industry safety concerns at a national level.
In fact, fall protection once again led OSHA's latest annual list of the most commonly cited workplace safety violations. Falls are the leading cause of accidental death on construction job sites, with 350 of the 937 worksite deaths reported in 2015 related to a fall.
Safety during demolition is another major concern. An incident that is representative of how deadly these types of accidents can be happened late last year in South Dakota when a worker was killed in a collapse during demolition operations. OSHA said the general contractor had crews remove two load bearing walls right before the structure failed and that the company never conducted an engineering survey before it started work.
Excavation and trench safety are other potentially deadly operations; the weight of just one cubic yard of soil can reach up to 3,000 pounds, which is enough to crush and kill someone. According to OSHA, fatal trench-related accidents more than doubled last year, but the agency said that number could be decreased if contractors would train workers on proper safety procedures and comply with the agency's safety standards.
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