New York City Council Packaging Bills to Address Construction Accidents

In response to several years of increasing construction accidents citywide, including 24 accidental deaths over the last two years, the New York City Council is preparing to introduce a package of bills directed toward construction site safety. According to the real estate website The Real Deal, the proposed laws would:

  • Require additional safety training
  • Mandate an apprenticeship program
  • Reform how the Department of Buildings reports fatalities
  • Develop a task force to look at the minority workforce

The most controversial of these measures is the mandatory apprenticeship program, which Real Estate Board of New York President John Banks says “will only result in shutting down construction sites and putting people out of work.” However, adding a requirement that contractors only hire workers who have participated in an apprenticeship program has long been a goal for labor leaders, who assert such a regulation would reduce construction accidents.

According to the website Politico, “Unions spent roughly $4 million in 2015 in an ad campaign to push required wages on sites receiving the 421-a tax break.” Developers and contractors object that apprenticeship programs are almost entirely run by the unions, but the state Department of Labor puts the unions’ share of certified building and construction apprenticeship programs at 47 percent. Patrick Purcell, executive director of the Greater New York Laborers-Employers Cooperation & Education Trust, declared via email that “Construction sites throughout New York City must no longer be allowed to operate with minimal, and at times criminally negligent, levels of training.”

As attorneys for injured construction workers, we at Barasch & McGarry often represent laborers who are the victims of negligent contractors. These workers frequently do not understand their rights and responsibilities, or the obligations of the contractors to make the worksite as safe as possible. Given the limited resources the Department of Buildings can allocate for inspectors and the intransigence of certain contractors, the burden for maintaining safety often falls on the shoulders of individual workers, who must be trained to recognize an unreasonably dangerous situation and understand they have the right to stop work. If a mandatory apprenticeship program can deliver the desired results, it is an idea worth considering.

Barasch & McGarry represents clients injured in construction accident claims. If you or a loved one has been seriously injured, call 855.539.9189 or contact our firm online to schedule a free consultation.

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