New York ‘Tweaks Construction Safety Law

Amid widespread noncompliance and mounting accidents in New York’s most dangerous industry, City Council ‘tweaked’ its construction safety laws last month. The law originally passed in 2017 in the aftermath of several serious and preventable construction accidents has failed to put a dent in the number of construction worker deaths, which continue to increase each year. The law requires all construction workers in the city to receive at least 30 hours of safety training by Dec. 1 2019, according to City & State New York. By Sept. 1, 2010, the number of training hours required increases to 40 hours. 

The bold and controversial law has largely languished since it passed, according to the newspaper. The Department of Buildings has pushed back the deadline for worker training several times after failing to implement the standards and programs required by the training courses. The government agency says that the City Council has made the problem worse by continually revising the law since 2017. Allegations of widespread fraud have been reported in the news, describing a black market for safety training certificates and online courses that lack adequate identity verification policies. 

The most recent legislative fix is meant to “expand opportunities for training,” according to public advocate Jumaane Williams which will “extend the capacity of community organizations that usually don’t have an entry” to safety training programs. Williams says the fix will ensure that non-union construction workers, which he says are largely racial minorities, will have the same access to the safety training courses necessary to perform construction work in the five boroughs. Ignoring questions about the scandal-plagued program, the Public Advocate says the new law will help train more workers, sooner and begin lowering the skyrocketing rates of construction accidents experienced by New York in the past five years. “We just have to keep pushing,” he told City & State New York. “We can’t change the deadline again. It’s just not going to happen.”

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