Legislator introduces bill to require NYC to record OSHA-related construction deaths

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fdny crane image
FDNY image of an April crane collapse at 40 Worth St & W Bdwy in Manhattan where at least one person died.

Rosenthal’s bill, posted on Jan. 11, says:

  AN ACT to amend the administrative code of the  city  of  New  York,  in
          relation  to  the  department  of  buildings keeping records regarding
          fatal construction accidents
 
          The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and  Assem-
        bly, do enact as follows:
 
     1    Section 1. Section 28-103.21 of the administrative code of the city of
     2  New  York,  as  added by local law number 29 of the city of New York for
     3  the year 2008, is amended to read as follows:
     4    §28-103.21 Incident lists. The commissioner shall post on the  depart-
     5  ment's  website  a  list  of  every  incident,  including those where no
     6  violation or threat to public safety existed,  that  occurred  on  every
     7  construction site within the city of New York that resulted in an injury
     8  and/or  a fatality, either or both of which were reported to the depart-
     9  ment or of which the department otherwise became aware. Such list  shall
    10  be  updated  monthly. Such list shall identify the owner and the general
    11  contractor of the site where the incident occurred, the  nature  of  the
    12  work being performed at the time of the incident, violations issued as a
    13  result of the incident, if any, and to whom such violations were issued,
    14  and  the  number  of persons injured and/or killed. Such list shall also
    15  set forth the total number of injuries and fatalities  reported  to  the
    16  department  or  of  which  the  department  otherwise  became aware that
    17  occurred on construction sites within each borough and within the entire
    18  city for each of the previous five calendar years.
    19    § 2. Section 28-103.14 of the administrative code of the city  of  New
    20  York,  as  added  by local law number 33 of the city of New York for the
    21  year 2007, is amended to read as follows:
    22    §28-103.14 Department records.  The  department  shall  keep  official
    23  records  of applications received, permits and certificates issued, fees
    24  collected, reports of inspections, every incident, including those where
 
         EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                              [ ] is old law to be omitted.
               
     1  no violation or threat to public safety existed, that occurred on  every
     2  construction site within the city of New York that resulted in a fatali-
     3  ty, and notices and orders issued. Such records shall be retained in the
     4  official  records  for  the  period  required  for  retention  of public
     5  records.
     6    § 3. This act shall take effect immediately.

In 2015, more than a third of deaths counted by the federal government were excluded from the city’s tally, Crain’s New York Business reported.

The Department of Buildings counted 12 construction-related deaths in 2016, the same as in 2015.  However, these deaths only relate to threats to public safety or involve violations of the city’s construction code.

Rosenthal said the “ridiculous system” of only tracking certain deaths seemed “like government bureaucracy as justification for inaction.”

“And in this age of transparency it’s unacceptable,” Crain’s quoted her as saying. “It seems almost like willful obfuscation.”

In 2016, the Department of Buildings counted 12 construction-related deaths, the same number as in 2015. But the agency only counts deaths that involve violations of the city’s construction code or threaten public safety. It does not track those that involve workplace safety, which is regulated by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Gary LaBarbera, president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, told Crains’: “This isn’t a statistical game,” he said. “This is life and death.”

Real estate developers represented by the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) also agreed with Rosenthal’s position.

“Gathering and analyzing more comprehensive data about construction site accidents is a sensible step toward providing greater safety for construction workers and the public,” said Carl Hum, RENBY’s senior vice president for management services “REBNY appreciates that Assemblymember Rosenthal’s draft legislation goes in that direction.”