City Council to Introduce Construction Safety Bills
The New York City Council is expected to introduce a package of bills aimed at addressing the increasing number of accidents and fatalities in the construction industry. The city recorded 24 construction deaths over a two-year period—11 each year for workers and two passersby. The city includes only what is in its purview to monitor, and excludes things like medical conditions or heat stroke.
The council is preparing to introduce a package of bills this month that would require additional safety training, mandate an apprenticeship program, address how fatalities are reported by the Department of Buildings, and create a minority workforce task force.
Most fatalities are among non-union workers at shorter buildings and the most contentious bill would attempt to address this issue. The bill would require contractors to hire workers who have participated in an apprenticeship program. It has long been a priority of labor leaders, who insist it would stave off the increase in construction accidents.
However, developers have criticized apprenticeship programs as an attempt to boost union membership at a time when non-unionized workers are gaining a foothold in the construction industry. They also worry it will drive up the cost of construction, especially at smaller projects.
Developers and contractors often say apprenticeship programs are almost entirely run by unions. According to the state Department of Labor, which certifies them, 47 percent of building and construction apprenticeship programs in the city are sponsored by unions and 67 percent of all other registered apprenticeship programs are union-sponsored.