Construction Safety is talked about constantly. There are many construction companies that take it very seriously. There are also many that don’t. All will say it’s their top priority.
So what can a city do that’s facing regular worker deaths and increases in workplace injuries? New York City has decided to require extensive safety training for all of the 185,000 construction workers in the city.
After worker injuries increased from 526 to 622 over the previous year, New York City’s Mayor Bill de Blasio recently approved a new law, Int-1447, which will require workers to receive a minimum of 10 hours of safety training by March 1, 2018 and an additional 30-45 hours of training by December 1, 2018. Of the additional hours, 8 must consist of “safeguarding against the dangers posed by falling workers and objects.” Periodic refresher courses will also be required. If found not in compliance, construction companies can be fined up to $25,000.
Even though all sides agree that something must be done to reduce construction injuries and deaths, opponents of this new law argued that it gives union shops an unfair advantage, because apprenticeship training is being treated the same as safety training. The Real Estate Board of New York also issued a recent statement, saying:
“We share the goal of the Mayor and the City Council to improve safety at every construction site. The latest version of the legislation is an improvement. However, it fails to address basic questions like ensuring there will be sufficient training providers or how workers without an on-going relationship with a contractor will pay for and obtain training. Unfortunately, the legislation continues to claim union apprenticeship training is the same as safety training. This legislation runs the risk of putting tens of thousands of construction workers on the unemployment line. We will continue to advocate that the City put in place a regime that will actually improve construction safety without depriving City residents the opportunity to access construction jobs that have historically served as a path to the middle class.”
Although New York City is allocating $5 million for this new initiative, it’s true that some upfront cost will fall to employers. But is it worth fighting over?
A legitimate challenge is that the safety courses, even if online, must be actively proctored by the person responsible for conducting the training. That will limit the amount of workers who are able to be trained.
OSHA standards already require active training for many tasks, so all construction companies should have a safety training structure in place. The OSHA 10 training course is less than $100 online and the OSHA 30 course is less than $200 online, without the active proctor. I recently finished an online OSHA 30 training course and, even though it’s supposed to be aimed at construction supervisors, it’s all information that EVERY SINGLE construction worker should know and be aware of.
Any upfront cost will surely be rewarded on the back end with safer site conditions and more aware employees.
What do you think? Should safety training be required other places?
You can read the full 15-page law, Int-1447, by clicking here (Word document download link).