Amid Construction Boom, NYC “Kicks the Can” on Construction Safety Training

The recent NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) announcement that the city is postponing its first major construction safety deadline is good news or bad news, depending on who you ask.

All city construction workers were required to take mandatory safety training by a Dec. 1 deadline, according to a 2017 law. However, a six-month deadline delay which was written into the legislation was recently invoked by City Buildings Commissioner Rick Chandler when he announced that workers and supervisors now have until June 2019 to receive this training.

Though no reasons were given in the announcement, the fact that the city is in the midst of a historic building boom is likely to have some influence on the decision. Safety training courses are usually provided by third-party instructors or in-house contractors. But it seems that since the law was passed not enough providers were approved by the city to conduct those courses, according to the trade group Building Trades Employers’ Association. This smaller pool of safety course providers makes it difficult for a swollen roster of construction employees and supervisors to be compliant by the original December 1 deadline,

This delay means that owners and contractors don’t need to worry about being hit with fines for non-compliance which the law contained. In his announcement, Chandler said this is a one-time delay.

Construction spending in New York City is expected to reach $61.5 billion by the end of this year – a record high in the city’s history. It’s a 25 percent increase over construction spending in 2017.

But construction-related accidents, injuries and fatalities in New York City increased over the first seven months of 2018 when compared to the same period in 2017, according to the DOB’s data. The number of accidents increased approximately 18.4 percent (386 to 457) and the number of injuries rose about 17 percent from 401 to 469. During this January-July 2018 period, construction-related deaths increased from four to eight.

Worker advocacy groups grumble at the built-in delays in safety compliance written into the controversial law, allowing the DOB to not only approve the instructors (and their number) but arbitrarily push the deadline back with no oversight or public conversation.

Louis Coletti, head of the Building Trades Employers’ Association pointed out that the six-month delay doesn’t affect the ultimate aim of the law and that this delayed December date was just one in a series of steps to achieve full safety instruction compliance. All construction workers must have 40 hours of training by September 2020. Supervisors must have 62 hours. So it’s possible another small delay could occur without violating the law. “This doesn’t change the end result in terms of what the legislation was seeking,” Coletti, says. “But it provides a more reasoned approach on how to get there in a way that won’t be disruptive.”

Construction sites in NYC aren’t much (if any) safer than they were before this law was enacted. If you are injured on any building site, it is your right to receive compensation for all your medical bills, lost income and other legal damages. Kaplan Lawyers, PC can help in your quest for full and fair compensation. Call the office nearest you or fill out the online contact form for your free case evaluation.