Nov. 14, 2013

Most Construction Fatalities in New York City Occur at Sites Where State-Approved Training Programs Not Required, New Report Finds

Bill Pending Before City Council Would Improve Safety at Taxpayer-Supported Construction Jobs

WASHINGTON, D.C. – While 36 workers died on construction jobs in New York in 2011 and 2012, 72 percent of those deaths occurred on sites where workers did not participate in state-approved training and apprenticeship programs, according to a Public Citizen report released today. On-the-job safety training has been proven to reduce construction industry injuries and fatalities, but the existing laws mandate only that it be provided by employers operating under conventional city contracts.

“Most construction workers are being put at far more risk than they ought to be, and it doesn’t have to be that way,” said report author Keith Wrightson, worker safety and health advocate at Public Citizen. “We owe it to construction workers to improve safety policies, and expanding training requirements would be an effective change.”

The Public Citizen report, “The Price of Inaction: The Cost of Unsafe Construction in New York City,” estimates the economic impact to New York City of fatal construction injuries in 2011 and 2012 at more than $180 million.

While the existing laws set training requirements for construction contractors under city contracts, the city also funds construction projects through “public benefit corporations,” entities that publicly finance projects through tax incentive financing. But these projects lack the same worker training requirements as projects under city contractors.

The Safe Jobs Act, pending in the New York City Council (Intro 1169-2013), would ensure training for all construction workers on taxpayer-funded projects, not just those people working on city contracts. It also would require construction companies to disclose violations of labor, safety and health, or tax laws, which would give city officials an opportunity to weed out less scrupulous developers and contractors. The bill would require construction companies working on projects larger than $1 million that are taxpayer-supported to run apprenticeship programs, which help create a highly skilled workforce that is less susceptible to injury.

Construction workers and several City Council members will rally for the bill outside City Hall on Thursday at 4 p.m.