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New York considers six-month delay for construction safety deadline

New York is considering a six-month delay to its first major construction safety deadline, suggesting the complexity of implementing the policy may have been underestimated, according to www.crainsnewyork.com.

A law passed in 2017 by the City Council required all construction workers in the city to have completed 30 hours of safety training by Dec. 1, and safety managers and other supervisory positions need to meet more stringent requirements. However, the Department of Buildings is deciding whether to exercise a clause in the legislation that would push that deadline back to early June 2019.

The law's purpose was to phase in the requirements in two steps—30 hours for workers by December 2018 and an additional 10 by fall 2020. However, the department would not indicate whether it believes the construction workforce is on track to meet the first deadline. Two spokesmen said officials are conducting site visits and working with a safety task force, and a decision would be made soon.

Construction groups said they would not meet the deadline.

"People underestimate how massive of an initiative this is," says Louis Coletti, chief executive of the Building Trades Employers' Association, a contractor trade group.

The most common training courses are offered through third-party providers or in-house at contracting firms. The classes are accredited by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and workers can obtain the safety ratings often required by the city.

Coletti says since the safety law was enacted, the number of workers who needed to enroll has overwhelmed the existing roster of providers. His organization and others have asked Buildings Commissioner Rick Chandler to invoke the six-month extension to prevent workers from falling out of compliance next month and putting contractors at risk of fines and delays at construction sites.

When the safety law is in full effect, all construction workers must carry a card indicating they have completed 40 hours of training. There will be various ways to meet that threshold, but the most common path could include completing an existing 30-hour federal course and supplementing the remainder with a new city-specific curriculum.

"When we passed this landmark legislation, we anticipated that it would be a significant process that may require some adaptability, and structured the law accordingly," said Councilman Jumaane Williams, the prime sponsor of the original legislation, in a statement. "We're committed to ensuring this life-saving training is effectively administered for the people who build our city."


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