Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Housing And Buildings Committee Chair Jumaane Williams, And Council Members Announce Construction Safety Act

The Construction Safety Act will make construction sites safer by reducing safety violations and strengthening crane regulations

City Hall – Today, Speaker Mark-Viverito, Housing and Buildings Committee Chair Jumaane Williams and Council Members announced that they will introduce the Construction Safety Act, a comprehensive package of legislation to strengthen construction and crane safety regulations in New York City. These bills were drafted in response to an alarming increase in construction site injuries and fatalities. The Construction Safety Act aims to address the longstanding issues of lax compliance with local construction codes and carelessness on the behalf of contractors.

“Unsafe construction sites endanger the lives of workers and anyone unfortunate enough to be nearby. The Construction Safety Act will not only help prevent accidents, it will make sure that contractors who violate site safety laws are held fully accountable,” said Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “I want to thank my colleagues on the Council—especially Housing and Buildings Committee Chair Jumaane Williams–for working on this package and look forward to our upcoming hearing.”

“Thirty construction workers have died since 2015,” said Council Member Jumaane D. Williams, Chair of the Housing and Buildings Committee. “There is no other industry where workers die at such an alarming rate without significant preventative recourse. It is the responsibility of the developers and construction companies to ensure there is an atmosphere of safety at construction sites. 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. Thank you to the Speaker for her leadership on this issue.  I look forward to working with my Council colleagues in creating a safer environment for construction workers in this City.”

 

The Construction Safety Act will be introduced at the January 18, 2017 Stated meeting and includes the following bills:

Construction Safety Legislation

Legislation sponsored by Council Member Jumaane Williams

Most construction accidents involve falls. This bill would require additional safeguards, such as more extensive guardrail and netting requirements, to help prevent falls at construction sites.

Legislation sponsored by Council Members Ben Kallos, Helen Rosenthal, Mark Levine, Ritchie Torres and Elizabeth Crowley

Introduction 81, sponsored by Council Member Rory Lancman

As construction increases, so do accidents, but tracking the rise can be difficult because different agencies keep different information. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration focuses on worker injuries and fatalities, while the Department of Buildings focuses on harm stemming from violations of the local construction code. These bills would consolidate that information in one place by requiring the Department of Buildings to maintain a comprehensive list of all construction-related injuries and fatalities, whether they involve workers, bystanders, or both, and would ensure prompt reporting of violation information by DOB to OSHA.

“The epidemic of construction worker deaths in New York City is in part a result of OSHA being grossly understaffed and overworked,” said Council Member Rory Lancman, Chair of the Committee on Courts and Legal Services. “If the Department of Buildings observes a safety violation, my bill would require the department to report it to OSHA for further investigation. We’re not going to end this crisis so long as the left hand and the right hand aren’t working together.”

Legislation sponsored by Council Member Helen Rosenthal

Construction contractors who repeatedly violate the local construction code are more likely to be involved in construction accidents. This bill would create a system for identifying those contractors, subjecting them to greater scrutiny and enforcement, and, where necessary, suspending them from doing construction work.

“Unsafe construction practices cost lives and we must do more to protect our workers, tenants, and neighbors,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal. “The Construction Safety Act will give the City the tools it needs to prevent these tragedies from occurring and to hold in account those bad actors who continue to engage in risky and dangerous practices. Thank you to the Speaker and to Chair Williams for giving this issue the attention it demands.”

Legislation sponsored by Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito

Legislation sponsored by Council Member Carlos Menchaca

“The Construction Safety Act is a package of legislation that our constructions workers need now. The Act offers much needed protections for all workers–regardless of immigration status–and applies full accountability to contractors who violate site safety laws,” said Council Member Carlos Menchaca. “May these laws bring some semblance of justice for the many lives lost at construction sites, including those we never read about in the papers.”

Introduction 1404, sponsored by Council Member Jumaane Williams

Too often, builders view the penalties for code violations as simply the “cost of doing business.” That mindset puts the public and the construction workers at great risk, and it cannot continue. These bills would ramp up punishment for builders at sites that have a history of thwarting the laws designed to keep us safe, particularly where those violations result in death or injury.

Legislation sponsored by Council Members Jumaane Williams, Carlos Menchaca and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer

A properly trained workforce is a safe workforce. This bill would require additional training for construction workers in order to better protect both the workers themselves and the general public.

Legislation sponsored by Council Member Mark Treyger

Legislation sponsored by Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland

In addition to being properly trained, it is important that construction workers be familiar with the specific safety procedures in place at their work site to protect the public and workers. These bills would require that site managers conduct a site-specific safety orientation for all new workers and hold meetings with relevant staff before performing any dangerous or out-of-the-ordinary work at the site.

“Requiring developers and construction companies to provide on-site worker safety training is a common sense move that will limit the alarming city-wide rise in jobsite deaths. Making such training available in a language that workers understand ensures that higher safety standards are accessible for all of our city’s diverse population of laborers,” said Council Member Mark Treyger. “I am proud to support this vital piece of legislation, and I thank Speaker Mark-Viverito for leading the push to protect New York City’s construction workers.”

“Worker safety is of paramount concern. As the legislative year starts, I am proud to stand with my colleagues and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito to make construction sites safer. Our bill specifically requires workers to receive task-specific instruction, in the language of their choice, about any potential safety or hazardous concerns during their ensuing work-shift. It is a bill with the potential to save a life and impact the future of an entire family,” said Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, Chair of the Committee on Finance. “I would like to thank Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito for her leadership on this issue and for always championing working families.”

Legislation sponsored by Council Members Jumaane Williams and Ritchie Torres

Legislation sponsored by Council Member Steven Matteo

Major building sites are already required to have site safety plans and trained personnel to implement them, but construction accidents happen at other sites too. These bills would expand site safety plan requirements to smaller construction sites and would require reporting on the number of persons trained to implement these plans.

“New York City is in the midst of a construction boom which has generated thousands of jobs and millions in new revenue. But we must ensure our building industry has the tools it needs to work safely and efficiently, and balance that with appropriate supervision,” said Council Minority Leader Steven Matteo. “The reporting bill I am introducing will provide important oversight of DOB’s process of training and certifying safety managers and safety coordinators, and ultimately help the city keep up with their growing demand.”

 

Crane Safety Legislation

Legislation sponsored by Council Member Barry Grodenchik

This bill, being drafted in collaboration with the Department of Buildings, based upon recommendations from the City’s Crane Technical Working Group, would require a trained lift director to be onsite during crane operations, and would impose a registration requirement to allow the Department to track these individuals.

“Construction workers should not have to risk their lives while working on a site. The Construction Safety Act will provide important measures, including those designed for the safe operation of cranes, to help create a safer environment for all those around construction sites,” said Council Member Barry S. Grodenchik.

Legislation sponsored by Council Member Alan Maisel

Legislation sponsored by Council Member Margaret Chin

Introduction 1403, sponsored by Council Member Jumaane Williams

These bills, being drafted in collaboration with the Department of Buildings based on recommendations from the City’s Crane Technical Working Group would require installation of safety-enhancing equipment on cranes, including (1) a GPS tracker that would allow the Department of Buildings to know where the crane is operating at all times and to facilitate onsite audits, (2) a data logger that would record crane operations similar to how a “black box” records data for use after plane crashes, and (3) a device for measuring wind speed that crane operators can use to keep track of winds as they work.

“As our beloved New York City continues to build, we must be mindful and raise safety standards to ensure the well-being of all.  I am pleased to sponsor legislation which will require cranes to be equipped with data logging devices.  The devices will provide vital tracking information to help with agency oversight,” said Council Member Alan Maisel.

Introduction 443, sponsored by Council Member Ben Kallos

Newer cranes use better technology and have more safety features. This bill would phase out the use of older cranes by imposing an age limit on cranes operating in New York City.

Legislation sponsored by Council Member Jumaane Williams

This is a bill the Council is preparing together with the Department of Buildings based upon recommendations of the City’s Crane Technical Working Group. The bill would establish new licensing standards for operators of particularly large, complex cranes.

Legislation sponsored by Council Member Margaret Chin

This is a bill the Council is preparing together with the Department of Buildings based upon recommendations of the City’s Crane Technical Working Group. This bill would establish safeguards concerning the operation and disassembly of cranes on windy days.

“As our city continues to experience an unprecedented construction boom, the safety of workers and residents needs to be our top priority,” said Council Member Margaret S. Chin. “The Construction Safety Act will provide even more protections that will save lives, and give all New Yorkers valuable peace of mind that their city is doing everything possible to ensure their safety. By joining Speaker Mark-Viverito, Chair Williams, and my Council colleagues to introduce this legislation, it is my hope that the fatal construction accidents afflicting our city will soon become a thing of the past.”

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