Erik McGregor Photography

Erik McGregor is a New York City based artist, photographer and activist.

Community and Elected Officials join thousands of construction workers in demanding safe job sites citing alarming rise in construction related deaths better training and improved safety on jobs

New York City, January 18, 2017 – Citing the alarming rise in construction related deaths, thousands of hardhat construction workers, along with elected officials and community leaders, today called on the City Council to pass the Construction Safety Act, a series of bills that will provide for true professional training to improve the safety of all construction workers and the general public.

“If 30 people died at their jobs in the last two years in any other industry we wouldn’t have to fight for basic safety measures to be implemented in their workplace, but apparently for the safety of construction workers we do,” said Terry Moore Business Manager Local 46 Metallic Lathers and Reinforcing Iron Workers. “So we’re out here today doing just that, fighting for the right of every worker to make it home safely at the end of the day. The question for the administration if they choose to oppose this legislation is, ‘How many more must die?’”

In the last two years, 30 construction workers have been killed while on the job. In the rush to cash in on the real estate boom, developers have ignored basic safety requirements and training on jobsites throughout the City. Today, the New York City Council took the long overdue first step in securing construction jobsites. Protesters urged the City Council to be the city’s true progressive voice and remain vigilant in requiring stringent safety standards and rigorous training for all construction projects in the city.

“Today we say enough is enough,” said Mike Hellstrom, Organizing Director, for the 17,000 member Mason Tenders District Council, LIUNA. “Too many workers have left for work in the morning, never to return home. Today we make sure that the dead have a voice in demanding safe work sites for all construction workers, union and non-union. Providing a highly trained, safe workforce on a constructions site, whether they are large or small, is not a political or economic issue; it is a moral issue. Today marks a turning point in our fight for safe jobs. The Speaker and City Council are to be commended for the leadership they have shown.”

New York City Councilmember Carlos Menchaca (D-Brooklyn) said, “Some will call them (the 30 deaths) accidents but these were no accidents. These fatalities were because proper safety requirements were either not in place or ignored by site supervisors. They were ignored because something else is more important than safety, more important than human life.”

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Luis Colon, a Local 46 Apprentice and former Park Side non-union worker, spoke on behalf of all the workers who risk their lives every day, “When I started working construction nobody cared if I knew how to work safely or not, they just wanted to get the work done as quickly and cheaply as possible. I was injured at work, as were many of my co-workers. When I started working with Park Side Construction, one of their workers had just died on the job. People were passing around photos and laughing about how he didn’t know what he was doing, as if it was his own fault. I love what I do, I’m building New York, but construction is dangerous and I want to be around to watch my daughter grow up.”

Earlier in the day, NYCOSH released the “Deadly Skyline” report attributing the alarming number of deaths to lack of training for the workforce. Of the 30 deaths over the last two years, 28 were at non-union jobsites.

“The ‘Deadly Skyline’ report illustrates yet again what we know to be true: preventable construction fatalities are on the rise in New York City and the only way to end this epidemic is with training and safety requirements for all workers,” said Patrick Purcell, Executive Director of the Greater New York Laborers-Employers Cooperation & Education Trust, GNY LECET. “Thankfully the wait is now over and meaningful construction safety legislation will be introduced in the City Council today that will ensure stringent safety and training standards. I want to thank NYCOSH for continuing to shine a light on the construction industry and how we can work together to protect all construction workers,” Purcell added.

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