Concerned over the growing rate of construction accidents, Mayor de Blasio and City Hall passed a new set of safety regulations on the construction industry last year. However, according to a news report this law is being ignored by the construction industry. As the rate of accidents and deaths in the construction industry reach a record high this year, safety advocates hope that the government steps up enforcement of the law or pursues further legislation to protect construction workers.
Under the safety legislation passed by the city, construction workers must undergo additional training – a 10-hour class should have been completed by March 1 of this year, with an additional 30-hours of safety training required by December 1. Upon completion of the training, construction workers will receive a “Site Safety Training” card that must be brought with them to their construction site each day. However, despite the city’s noble efforts to address a real problem in New York, injuries and deaths in the construction industry have only grown this year.
A large part of the reason, according to safety advocates, is that the safety law is simply not being followed. According to anonymous sources speaking to City & State, an entire industry of substandard safety classes and fraudulent training cards has effectively de-fanged the Mayor’s new law. While the law requires a supervisor for the construction safety courses to confirm the identities of all construction workers, the mandate is apparently unenforced. Back in June, ABC News 7 investigated the construction safety courses and found it laughably easy to receive a “Certificate of Completion” when the state granted the news anchor’s cartoonish-pseudonym “Fred Flintstone” the honor. Speaking to ABC News 7, construction safety expert Michael Pinto said that the law “has very specific language that says that the room where training takes place has to be proctored.”
Unsupervised, online training is not the only way to bypass the law, according to city construction workers who describe a lively and accessible underground market for fraudulent safety cards. According to construction workers, the industry’s widespread and brazen noncompliance with the law has further undermined the culture of safety – the exact opposite of the law’s intended effect. In response to the article in City & State, the Department of Buildings said was not responsible for monitoring fraudulent safety classes and certifications and would develop its own safety training program.
Construction safety experts decry the law’s failed implementation and the Department of Building’s failure to properly implement the safety legislation. Given the law’s widespread noncompliance, construction accidents and construction deaths in the city continue their upward climb – from 212 construction injuries during Mayor de Blasio’s first term to 744 last year. With construction booming across the five boroughs, it appears the safety of construction workers is sadly taking a backseat.