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New York City Council approves six of 21 construction safety bills

Ever since 21 different construction safety bills (collectively known as the Construction Safety Act) were introduced in New York City several months ago, safety advocates have been patiently waiting to see how the City Council's Committee on Housing and Building would vote on these crucial measures. Well, the wait is now over, at least when it comes to six pieces of this very important legislation.

Specifically, last week, the Committee on Housing and Buildings approved the following bills: Int 0081-2014, Int 1421-2017, Int 1433-2017, Int 1435-2017, Int 1446-2017 and 1448-2017. Some of the important requirements contained in these six construction safety bills include:

  • The Department of Buildings (DOB) must notify the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSAH) of any construction code violations that would potentially endanger workplace safety (and all of the violations reported to OSHA must also be reported to the Mayor and Speaker of the City Council).
  • The data that must be reported when a construction site accident results in an injury or death is also expanded. A minimum civil penalty of $2,500 is imposed for the failure to report such information to the DOB.
  • Cranes must be equipped with GPS that is capable to transmitting its location to the DOB. If no GPS is attached, the DOB must be told when the crane will arrive and when it will leave the work site.
  • Cranes must be equipped with recorders that will collect the following information (which will be available to the DOB upon request): crane configurations, overload conditions, operator overrides and status of limit switches.
  • Hoisting machine operators must obtain a licensing rating in order to operate large cranes.
  • Certain buildings that are under construction and under 10 stories (excluding 1-, 2- and 3-family buildings) must retain a construction superintendent, who is responsible for maintaining a safe job site, among other things. In addition, such buildings must have a site safety plan that is also kept on site.

While this is certainly a good start, the truth is that there are still several bills left to consider. In fact, according to a recent New York Daily News report, many of the most controversial parts of the comprehensive construction safety package were not voted on last week, including provisions related to a worker apprenticeship program.

Fortunately, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito has said that this proposal is still being negotiated and that they are looking to "pass the rest of the package soon." Therefore, I guess we just have to wait a little bit longer to see what the City Council decides to do regarding worker safety.

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