Council Committee Approves Six of Twenty-one Construction Safety Bills

Council Member Margaret Chin. Image credit: NYCC/William Alatriste

Housing Committee approves six pieces of legislation from package of 21 bills on construction safety, more to follow including apprenticeship bill. On April 24, 2017, the City Council’s Committee on Housing and Buildings approved six bills from a package of 21 on which the Committee heard testimony on January 3st. For CityLand’s prior coverage of that hearing, click here. Chair of the Committee, Jumaane Williams, noted that the Committee planned on approving some of the remaining fifteen bills soon, including the controversial Intro. 1447-2017 which would require all construction workers citywide to participate in an apprenticeship program or have commensurate work experience.

“We cannot simply just say because we are building more we should expect more injuries and deaths,” said Chair Jumaane Williams. “I do think we moved a little slowly as a City on the amount of people who died, but I am glad we are moving at the pace we are now.”

“I hope to continue working with my colleagues in the Council to ensure better and more robust safety regulations for this important industry,” Council Member Margaret Chin, who sponsored one of the bills.

Two of the bills approved at the meeting related to reporting requirements of construction sites. Intro. 0081-2014 requires the Department of Buildings to report to OSHA any violations of the City’s Construction Code that potentially endangers workplace safety. Further, Buildings would be required to report to the Mayor and the Speaker of the City Council on those reports. Intro. 1433-2017 expands the information that must be reported when an accident that results in an injury or fatality occurs at a construction site. A minimum civil penalty of $2,500 would be applied for failing to report the information to the Department of Buildings.

Three of the bills approved related to crane operations. Intro. 1421-2017 requires all mobile cranes to be equipped with a GPS or similar device in order to transmit the location of cranes to the Department of Buildings. When a crane does not have a GPS, Buildings must be notified of the crane’s arrival and departure from a construction site. Intro. 1446-2017 requires hoisting machine operators to have a license rating in order to operate certain large cranes. The licensing rating can be obtained through demonstration by operation, practical exam, or completion of simulator training. Intro. 1435-2017 requires all cranes to be equipped with event recorders to collect information on: crane configurations, any overload condition, status of limit switches, and operator overrides. This information must be available to the Department of Buildings upon request.

Another bill related to construction safety plans. Intro. 1448-2017 requires that buildings under construction that are more than four stories in height retain a construction superintendent. Further, the bill requires that such construction sites have a safety plan created and on site.

A separate bill, which was considered in December 2016, was also approved by the Committee by a vote of 8-2 with one abstention. Intro. 0648-2015 requires building owners to file with the Department of Housing Preservation and Development and to post in a prominent place within the building the bedbug history of the building. The Department would be required to post online a building’s most recent bedbug history on its website. Council Members Barry Grodenchik and Eric Ulrich voted no. Grodenchik, in explaining his no vote, noted that the bill had good intentions but that he felt it would negatively affect too many co-ops in his district. Council Member Rosie Mendez abstained, citing unanswered questions about the bill.

CC: Meeting of the Committee on Housing and Buildings (April 24, 2017).

By: Jonathon Sizemore (Jonathon is the CityLaw Fellow and a New York Law School Graduate, Class of 2016).

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