For Immediate Release: February 12, 2016
Contact: Monica Novoa
Communications Director, NYCOSH
Cell: (929) 366-5320
NYCOSH Welcomes Mayor de Blasio’s Increased Construction Industry Fines
NYCOSH applauds Mayor de Blasio’s announcement today, of significantly increased fines and enforcement in New York City’s construction industry. “NYCOSH commends Mayor de Blasio and we look forward to a reverse in the injury and fatality trend that is a crisis for construction workers and their families throughout New York. Increased and strengthened enforcement, ongoing protection of regulations and criminal contractor accountability will go a long way toward making sure all workers make it home safely,” said Charlene Obernauer, NYCOSH’s executive director.
All New Yorkers must be guaranteed a safe workplace, and while construction work will always be hazardous, it should not be deadly. The fatalities of the past couple years and months require bold action and we look forward to continuing collaborating with major stakeholders so that construction workers, many of them NYCOSH members both union and non-union, can access safe and healthy jobs in their own city.
NYCOSH’s most recent report on construction industry fatalities (The Price of Life, 2015), with analysis on deadly falls in construction, found that many of the injuries in height related accidents could have been prevented if the employer had complied with the city’s safety rules. The increase in inspectors and enforcement announced today at the city level can make a real difference in protecting the lives of workers.
NYCOSH has also found that many unscrupulous employers have calculated fines due to injuries, deaths and unsafe sites as a cost of doing business. Instead of putting a price on life, employers must ensure complete safety measures have been calculated into the cost of doing good business and prioritizing workers’ safety and health on the job.
Because a large proportion of the construction workforce is made up of immigrant and Latino workers, the Department of Buildings should work collaboratively with immigrant and community organizations, day labor workers centers, and unions to identify unscrupulous contractors and successfully prove cases against them. The Justice for Delfino campaign, demanding justice from OSHA, the DOB, and Staten Island DA in the case of the death of worker Delfino Velasquez, has been a leading voice in calling for these reforms and criminal prosecution of Formica Construction.
NYCOSH will continue to call for various levels of government to improve construction worker safety in New York State, including:
- Protecting the Scaffold Safety Law;
- Protecting the NYS Workers’ Compensation System for injured workers and preventing workers’ comp fraud by criminal contractors;
- Increasing OSHA staffing and enforcement;
- Enforcing existing criminal statutes against unsafe employers. Criminal contractors should not be allowed to operate in New York;
- Increasing apprenticeship opportunities for women and people of color, and requiring apprenticeship programs for construction projects that are 10 stories and higher.