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A Construction Safety Bill is Dividing the Real Estate Industry in New York City

March 15, 2017 Construction Accidents

Making construction sites safe is of the utmost importance to everyone in the real estate industry in New York City. Far too many construction workers have been hurt or killed in recent building booms after the great recession ended. Injured workers or families of deceased workers can obtain benefits with help from a New York City construction accident lawyers, but avoidance of injuries or fatalities is much better for both construction workers and their employers.

To try to make construction sites safer, the New York City Council has proposed a package of 21 bills targeting construction site safety. Curbed reports that the City Council began hearing testimony on the 21 proposed bills towards the end of January. The testimony revealed a schism between different factions of the construction industry in New York City.

Division on Construction Safety Proposals Causes Tension

The 21 proposed bills introduced to the New York City Council address a wide range of issues impacting worksite safety and working life for city construction workers.  For example, crane safety and a new requirement that construction workers must take on an apprenticeship program are among the issues addressed in the proposed bills.

The bills would also impose stricter requirements on the use of netting and guardrail at construction sites; would improve the way that construction site accidents are tracked; and would impose harsher penalties on both contractors and builders who are repeat violators of construction safety rules.

The disagreement about the proposed bills arises from questions about whether or not the apprenticeship program has a racial bias which could disadvantage both Hispanic and African American workers.  Apprenticeship programs tend to favor union workers, and could create a substantial barrier to employment in the construction field, especially for people of color and for people living in New York City Housing Authority Communities.

Despite the conflict over the apprenticeship program, however, there is broad support for most of the proposed bills to improve safety in the construction industry.  The package of bills are collectively being called the Construction Safety Act and the bills are aimed at addressing the problems that have arisen in recent years. Deaths among construction workers increased from 17 fatalities in 2011 to 25 deaths in 2015 within New York City, so clearly something must be done.

Councilman Jumaane Williams, the lead sponsor of the construction safety bill, released a statement saying: “Thirty construction workers have died since 2015. There is no other industry where workers die at such an alarming rate without significant preventative recourse. The Construction Safety Act will help government do its part in ensuring this atmosphere of safety truly exists by reducing safety violations and strengthening crane regulations.”

It remains to be seen if the 21 proposed bills end up being successfully passed and if they make a difference when it comes to improving safety for workers. Regardless of whether the new proposed rules become law or not, employees are protected from serious financial loss in case of workplace injuries by state workers’ comp laws. Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff can help injured employees to understand their rights and take action after an injury. Give us a call today to discover more about how we can help.