Mayor Bill de Blasio and union leaders are set to increase the amount of training hours required for construction laborers. Under the new regulations, all workers will be trained between 54 and 71 hours and supervisors will be trained an additional 30 hours.
In addition, certain workers will be required to undergo “task specific training” which could total 242 hours of training. More specifically, any laborers who will be working in “confined spaces” will need two to 16 hours of additional training. Rigging safety and suspended scaffold workers will need an additional 16 hours of training, their supervisors will require an additional 32 hours. Ten hours of additional training will be required for “excavation, demolition, and perimeter protections.”
The move by City Hall comes in response to an uptick in injuries and deaths on construction sites. The New York Committee for Occupational Safety & Health recorded 25 construction fatalities in 2015, an alarming rise from the 17 recorded in 2015. Mayor de Blasio is reportedly “very upset” whenever a fatal accident happens at a construction site. According to Politico, the Mayor “yells at staff whenever a death occurs.”
The new regulations are a compromise between the construction unions, which want more required training and even lobbied for an apprenticeship program, and the real estate industry, which is wary of increasing labor costs due to the regulations. In response to the leaked memo detailing the new regulations, Real Estate Board of New York stated that while “additional safety training is clearly needed,” it was concerned that workers may be “thrown off the job because of overly stringent requirements that don’t ultimately promote safety.” The Greater New York Building and Construction Trades Council declined to comment on the proposed regulations but has previously stated that lack of training is the “fundamental” reason for construction fatalities in the city.
The Mayor declined to detail how much the training requirements would cost the city or answer any specifics concerning the leaked memo. Any change in the regulations would require approval from the City Council, which recently passed several bills aimed at improving safety at construction sites. City Council expects these bills to be amended in the next few weeks to include the Mayor’s proposals. In response to the new regulations, City Council spokeswoman Robin Levine said that, “Making construction sites safer is of paramount importance to the City Council… we are in ongoing conversations with stakeholders and the administration about this legislation and continue to explore the next steps.”