City will count all construction deaths – CRAIN’S

Posted by on Sep 14, 2017 in WORK | No Comments

City will count all construction deaths
The City Council passed a bill preventing the city from ignoring fatalities
By Rosa Goldensohn

The City Council on Tuesday approved a measure requiring the Department of Buildings to post a complete list of all construction deaths in the city on its website.

The bill was prompted by a Crain’s story that found some deaths slipped through the cracks of the city’s tracking and investigations. Only deaths that involved violations of the city’s construction code are currently counted, while those involving workplace safety violations but not city code violations are not.

As a result, when construction worker Alton Louis died after collapsing at an affordable housing project at 149 Kent Ave.—a death the federal Occupational Safety and Health Association deemed workplace-related—the site’s owner did not have to report anything about it to the city agencies that it works with. The death was neither investigated nor counted in the public tally the Buildings Department posts.

An Air Force veteran who fell down an elevator shaft at a Midtown hotel project was also among the one-third of worker deaths not counted in 2015. Construction is the city’s deadliest job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

When first confronted with the shortfall, Mayor Bill de Blasio and his staff denied that a complete count was necessary to create effective safety policy—a claim safety experts refuted. But under the new law, the buildings agency would be required to report on construction deaths whether they involve a city code violation or not. Other bills expected to pass Tuesday will require safety superintendents for most sites 10 stories or under (exempting one-, two- and three-family homes) and order the Buildings Department to report dangerous conditions to OSHA.

“Every single life lost at a New York City construction site matters and should be counted accordingly,” said Councilman Ben Kallos, D-Manhattan, the bill’s sponsor. “In the last two years, an alarming 33 construction workers have died on the job. Introduction 1443 will ensure the city gets the data needed to implement the solutions voted on in the package of legislation introduced today.”

In a statement, a Buildings Department spokesman said, “We support the intent of the bill. To this end, the department has proactively posted DOB and OSHA data on our website. We look forward to working with the City Council to further enhance construction safety across the city.”

The council also passed two bills relating to cranes, requiring them to be equipped with event recorders and GPS systems, and a bill requiring licenses for operators of hoisting machines. The most controversial bill in the council’s construction-safety package, which requires training for workers, has been amended and will not get a vote this week. Nonunion builders complained that the legislation would steer workers into apprenticeships controlled by organized labor.