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Surge in number of NYC after-hours construction permits raises safety concerns

Stand along a New York City street and you're bound to see or hear signs and sounds of a building being renovated or constructed. During the first six months of 2015, new construction projects alone in the city were valued at $22.2 billion. With the city's building boom showing no signs of slowing down, construction employers and contractors are cashing in and enjoying record-setting profits. While demand throughout the city for skilled construction workers continues to increase, construction companies point to a growing problem--a shortage of skilled workers.

A recent article about New York City's real estate boom in The Real Deal, details a sharp increase in the number of after-work hour permits that are being granted by the city's Department of Buildings. During 2015, nearly 60,000 of these permits, which allow construction work to occur before 7 a.m., after 6 p.m. or during the weekends; were granted for both new and renovation building projects.

While justifications for the permits cited by construction employers and contractors often include reasons such as public safety and emergency work, construction industry experts argue that it all comes down to money. Increasingly, with a shortage of experienced construction workers, construction employers are hiring and relying upon less experienced and non-union workers. Because these workers don't belong to a union, they aren't subject to the same overtime rules with regard to safety and pay.

Recognizing that they can significantly increase profits by requiring workers to work practically around-the-clock, many construction employers are exploiting the city's willingness to issue after-hour work permits. There's growing concern, however, that in doing so construction companies are putting profits before the safety of their workers.

Not only are many of the construction workers who work on the city's after-hour projects non-union, but they are also less experienced and more vulnerable to being subjected to illegal and dangerous labor practices by greedy employers and contractors.

New York construction workers who have suffered harm or injury due to safety lapses and violations may choose to reach out to an attorney who specializes in helping injured construction workers and their family members recover compensation.

Source: Real Estate Weekly, "NYC building boom hits $22B," Christian Brazil Bautista, Dec. 24, 2015