City Council’s safety bill thrills unions, raises open-shop ire

The New York City Council is working on a package of legislation called the Construction Safety Act. This includes a bill that is causing tension in the city’s construction industry. Bill 1447-A requires that all workers on a construction site undergo at least 59 hours of safety training. The bill also creates a task force to oversee the implementation of safety rules on construction sites.

We’re strong supporters of any measure that keeps New York’s workers safe. However, not everyone agrees that this legislation will do that. While unions are cheering the bill, other players in the construction industry have concerns (which we’ll discuss in an upcoming post).

Current training requirements aren’t enough, proponents say

Currently, OSHA requires just 10 hours of safety training for workers on construction sites. Given that construction is among the most dangerous industries in the United States, many experts believe that isn’t enough. To add to the concern among safety advocates, many workers are currently not even meeting OSHA’s 10-hour requirement before getting to work.

“[T]his legislation would be a major step forward, because the best way to reduce accidents is to try to prevent them. Training is the best tool we have to try to prevent them,” an industry representative told the Commercial Observer.

Union vs. nonunion: The battle rages on

Union and nonunion construction companies have no shortage of things to clash over. On this blog, we’ve talked about safety differences between union and open-shop sites, as well as the city’s failure to classify construction accidents as union or nonunion.

We’ll discuss some concerns of the bill’s nonunion opponents in a future post. In the meantime, it’s important not to lose sight of the most important consideration in New York construction law: keeping workers safe.