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A safety net for construction workers?

New legislative proposal could be a safety net for construction workers.

While it's no secret that construction work is a potentially risky occupation, some workers are more at risk than others. According to a study recently released by the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH), of all the construction fatalities, the vast majority were minority workers. The same study found that minority workers often face a greater amount of work-related risk relative to other workers.

According to another NYCOSH study recently released, there were 30 construction-work-related deaths over the previous two years (2015-2016).

Proposed legislation would seek to increase the safety of construction workers. To understand the potential impact of the proposed legislation, it is important to understand some key issues regarding construction regulations.

Construction worker training -union vs non-union

According to the NYCOSH research, about 90 percent of the construction-site fatalities happened on non-union construction sites. Unlike unionized workers, non-union workers are not required to complete rigorous work-related training.

Union training, on the other hand often comes in the form of apprenticeship programs. These programs allow new construction workers to learn directly from more experienced workers. Statistically, these types of programs have been shown to increase overall worker safety and decrease the amount of avoidable work-related accidents. These types of training requirements are one of the main aspects of the proposed legislation.

The Construction Safety Act

Introduced to the New York City Council on January 13 of this year, the Construction Safety Act would require construction companies to meet specified safety standards. Some of the proposed standards include:

  • Required training for all construction workers (both union and non-union)
  • Expansion of work site safety plans
  • Site-specific safety training programs
  • Required reporting of safety violations
  • Tracking of workers who have histories of risky behavior
  • Greater penalties for companies that allow unnecessary work site risks

Those in support of this Act say that the increased safety and training requirements would prevent avoidable injuries, accidents and fatalities. Opponents say there are better ways to train workers, and the proposed Act would make it more difficult for minority workers to get jobs.

Accidents happen under the best of intentions and circumstances. If a worker is injured in a work-related incident, solid legal representation after a work-related injury is critical.

We've dedicated our practice to helping the seriously injured and their families.

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