According to a recently released Public Citizen report, “The Price of Inaction: The Cost of Unsafe Construction in New York City,” almost two-thirds of the 36 construction workers who died on the job in New York City in 2011 and 2012 died on sites where workers did not receive state-approved training and apprenticeship programs.
The law only requires companies operating under conventional city contracts to provide safety training. This has been proven to reduce construction accidents, injuries and fatalities. According to Keith Wrightson, a worker safety and health advocate at Public Citizen, “We owe it to construction workers to improve safety policies, and expanding training requirements would be an effective change.” The city also funds construction projects through “public benefit corporations,” which finance public projects through tax incentive financing. These projects do not have the same training requirements.
The report estimates that fatal construction accidents cost more than $180 million in 2011 and 2012.
Legislation now before the City Council would require training for workers on all publically-funded construction projects, not just for workers on conventional city contracts. The proposed law would also require construction companies to reveal health, safety, labor and tax law violations. Finally, the law would require companies receiving contracts for projects of more than $1 million to run apprenticeship programs., which have been shown to reduce injuries.
Supporters of the legislation, called the Safe Jobs Act, rallied at City Hall on the same day that the report was released, urging council members to pass the law. As the NYC construction industry improves, construction-related fatalities have increased significantly, prompting unions and safety organizations to advocate for the passage of the bill.
Source: EHS Today, “Report: Most Construction Fatalities in New York City Occur at Sites Where State-Approved Training Programs Are Not Required,” Nov. 14, 2013.