Mayor signs construction safety bill into law

Mayor signs construction safety bill into law
Mayor Bill de Blasio celebrates the signing of Into 1447-C alongside Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, left, NYC Council Member Carlos Menchaca, and NYC Council Member Jumaane D. Williams (shaking hands).
Kevin Fagan

Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday signed into law Intro 1447-C, a landmark construction safety bill introduced and advocated for by Council Member Jumaane D. Williams (D-Brooklyn), deputy leader and chair of the City Council’s Housing and Buildings Committee.

The measure will institute mandatory construction worker safety training standards, including setting the minimum amount of safety training hours for New York City construction workers.

Many of those workers joined workers’ rights advocates in celebrating the signing on Monday afternoon, according to Williams, representative for the 45th Council District in Brooklyn.

The bill, co-sponsored by Council Member Carlos Menchaca, passed through City Council in a unanimous vote on Sept. 27.

Now law, it mandates that workers have a cumulative total of 40-55 hours of training, phased in over time.

The first 10 hours must be completed by March 2018, 30 hours by Dec. 1 of that year, and 40-55 within five months of that date.

Extensions can be granted to the second and third milestone, if necessary.

Williams said a task force has been created to help facilitate the training and determine its content, in conjunction with the city’s Department of Buildings.

While signing Intro 1447-C, in the rotunda of City Hall, de Blasio spoke of the need to protect all workers, regardless of affiliation, as they build the city, a sentiment echoed by Gary LaBarbera, president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York.

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Menchaca also spoke of the urgent need to improve worker safety in light of the recent deaths of workers on construction sites.

Williams said he led the hall in a moment of silence to honor the workers who had passed before he addressed the gathering.

“In a city constantly under construction, worker safety is of paramount importance,” Williams said. “For too long, though, an eroded culture of safety in the industry has led to unsafe conditions, injury and death, with developers insulated from responsibility for these tragedies.

“Requiring a uniform baseline amount of safety training is a long overdue and critically important measure toward having a tangible impact on worker’s well-being and beginning to correct the culture of the industry, restoring the safety of those who build this city as the top priority.

“I would like to thank Council Member Menchaca and Speaker Mark-Viverito for helping to bring this bill before the Mayor today, and I thank the Mayor for recognizing the urgency of this matter and moving to address it,” he continued.

Menchaca said construction work is “as dangerous as it is important to the city.

“I take very seriously the safety of workers and the public, and it is clear that big changes have to be made,” he said. “The most simple and effective way we can protect our construction workers and the people around them is by providing them with quality safety training.

“Putting people in our community in danger for the sake of profit is completely irresponsible,” he added. “As chair of the Committee on Immigration, I have a special responsibility to speak out on behalf of our immigrant population, in particular for immigrant workers who lack access to safety training and protections.

“It is our obligation to take action to end this full-blown safety crisis,” Menchaca continued. “As we take this critically-important step by passing Intro 1447-C into law, we must continue the hard work of achieving a genuine culture of safety around construction sites.”

Brewer said the sheer scale and non-stop nature of construction in the city mean “we need to make sure we have the best-trained, best-protected construction workforce in the country.”

She said that when she had convened an industry working group to consider worksite safety, increased training for mid-rise projects and quality control for that training were issues that kept coming up.

“I’m pleased to have worked with Chairman Williams and Council Member Menchaca to support this important legislation,” she said.

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