City council tightens regulations to protect NY construction workers

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NEW YORK — The New York City Council approved legislation Wednesday seeking to make sweeping changes across the construction industry in, particularly when it comes to safety training on sites.

"I remember him telling me that the work site where he was working was precarious.  The space that he had was very limited and very small and he couldn't move much," recalled Olivia Soto, the partner of Juan Choncillo who was one of two construction workers killed in New York City last week.

The city council unanimously passed bill 1447-C. The legislation would create for stricter safety training and enforcement at sites like where Chonillo lost his life.

"A lot of those deaths could have been avoided.  They didn't have to happen," said Dennis Lee, Organizer for Local 79.

The bill was in the works for nearly nine months, bringing together union and non-union workers, those who are documented and also undocumented.  It's the latter group of day laborers many advocates were most concerned for.
"We needed to figure out a solution.  We wanted to figure out a way to provide the training to the most vulnerable workers," said Manuel Castro, the executive director of NICE, New Immigrant Community Empowerment.

Councilmembers Carlos Menchaca and Helen Rosenthal, both co-sponsors of the bill, said they found different workers were getting different standards of safety.

The new bill addresses education and safety training for all construction workers across all sites across the cit. It also regulates contracting companies and penalizes them for not following the rules.

Advocates said more than 30 construction worker deaths occurred in New York City in the last two years and the majority of victims were Latino immigrants.