The New York City Council's Committee on Housing and Buildings this week approved six of 21 proposed construction safety measures, according to CityLand, postponing consideration of the most controversial.
The council approved two bills that would increase injury reporting requirements and three crane-related safety measures. Another bill requires a construction superintendent be present on any building project four stories or higher and mandates that such projects have an onsite safety plan.
Not included in this round of approvals was a contentious bill requiring all construction workers to complete apprenticeships or have comparable work experience, but Committee Chair Jumaane Williams said approval is expected at a future meeting. Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said negotiations are still underway, the New York Daily News reported.
This omission of the apprenticeship requirement is no doubt a relief to contractors and city officials who have led campaigns against it. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio previously came out in opposition to that particular piece of the Construction Safety Act and suggested that the city increase inspections and impose larger penalties instead. De Blasio and open-shop contractors said city apprenticeship programs, roughly half of which are union-backed, would not be practical for nonunion projects.
Union officials have claimed the city's construction sites are not as safe as they could be because not everyone is trained according to their standards.
The push for new safety legislation came after an increase in worker deaths amidst a building boom in New York City. According to a trade union analysis of data, 30 workers died in construction accidents in 2015 and 2016. In January, a report from the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health noted that 80% of job-site deaths in 2014 and 2015 occurred on nonunion sites.
There has long been discussion around whether union or nonunion sites are safer, but the city doesn't track accidents by those designations. In October 2016, however, Williams suggested that it start doing so. He said using such accident data could provide officials with more substantive information about "who’s safe and who isn't" on New York City construction sites.