Construction sites can be dangerous places, and construction workers need to be adequately trained to manage those hazards. But in too many cases, construction managers prioritize speed and profit over safety, leading to deadly construction accidents.
New York contractors' unions have long been advocates for stricter regulations that will prevent accidents and improve safety on sites in New York City and statewide. A proposal currently being discussed by the City Council highlights this conflict between safety advocates and corporate interests.
The proposed bill, 1447-A, would increase the legal requirement for workers on any construction site to 59 hours of safety training, significantly higher than the current 10-hour requirement, according to a Commercial Observer article.
Safety needs to be the top priority on New York construction sites
According to union representatives cited in the Commercial Observer article, part of the problem is that even the current 10-hour requirement is inconsistently enforced, leading to many workers on New York construction sites who have had little or no safety training.
Those undertrained workers don't just endanger themselves - they put everyone else on the site at risk. And it's unfortunately common for contractors who are themselves in compliance with the state and federal regulations to sublet work out to subcontractors who hire untrained, non-union workers to cut costs, at the expense of safety training.
Opponents of the proposed legislation argue that tighter regulations would make it even harder to source labor on construction sites. But we contend that if the construction industry is having trouble finding more workers, compromising on safety standards - and putting workers' lives at risk - is not the solution.
Better training can prevent accidents for everyone involved
Safety training is the first and most important step toward preventing accidents. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the top five cited safety hazards on construction sites include:
- Fall protection
- Head protection
Construction workers need to be trained to properly use safety equipment, erect scaffolding and conduct excavation projects in order to prevent serious accidents. Government agencies need to enforce the regulations that already exist in order to make sure that only workers with proper training are at work on New York construction sites. And the construction industry itself needs to make safety, rather than profit, its top priority.
If you've been injured on a construction site due to a subcontractor's or other company's negligence, you have rights. An experienced construction accident attorney can investigate, get to the bottom of what happened and demand justice.