Construction workers are always in high demand, but their work is among the most dangerous in the country. Horror stories about construction site accidents are plentiful, especially in high density areas like Long Island. There were 5,190 fatal work injuries recorded in the United States in 2021, an 8.9-percent increase from 4,764 in 2020.
In a preemptive measure to decrease work site accidents, the city council voted unanimously in February to amend one of its codes, adding construction site safety training.
The idea was spearheaded by Glen Cove Councilwoman Marsha Silverman, who had been in talks with Vincent Alu, vice president of Laborers Local 66 and a certified OSHA instructor and Grant Newburger, a spokesman for the Building & Construction Trades Council of Nassau & Suffolk Counties.
Silverman said the cost of training would not be a burden to the city because it would fall on developers to ensure their workers are trained.
The self-paced courses range from $159 to $215 and can be taken over the phone, or online. Students will be issued a study guide and a card from the Department of Labor. While the completion card doesn’t expire, OSHA recommends taking their outreach safety training every four to five years to stay updated with the latest safety regulations and industry practices.
“It’s not just for the workers and worker safety, but it’s really public safety,” Silverman said. “God forbid something went wrong on a site and something fell on somebody driving by. You can’t put a price on someone’s wellbeing.”
The addition to the town code would require what’s known as the OSHA 30 training. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration act was passed in 1971, to ensure safe and healthy conditions for workers by setting and enforcing standards through providing training, education and resources.
The new law addresses safety requirements for a minor construction site, which will require that each worker complete a 30-hour OSHA safety training class. Safety requirements will require someone to be assigned to the site, ensuring that each worker has a 30-hour OSHA safety certificate. The permit applicant, holder, or any person performing work on behalf of the permit holder will need to certify to the director of the city’s building department, Scott Grupp, that the safety requirements have been met for the project and the workers who will work on it. No permit will be issued without a certification from the permit holder.
A permit holder must also maintain a daily log identifying each worker with proof of the safety certification. This log will be required as a prerequisite of a certificate of occupancy or completion for the project. The penalties for first time violations range from $1,000 up to $10,000. For a second, penalties increase to $3,000 up to $10,000, or 15 consecutive days imprisonment.
Alu said that he wants to raise the standard of safety. Right now, the towns of North Hempstead, Hempstead and Babylon have passed the same law.
Alu said he finds it critically valuable and important that cities and towns address new safety standards since there is an influx of what he calls a cheap workforce coming from other states daily.
“We find ourselves competing with $10 an hour guys with zero training,” Alu said. “What OSHA does is create a culture of safety amongst the workforce on a particular job.”
Newburger said a construction worker dies in the state while on the job once every five days, a number he finds unacceptable. And 87 percent of those deaths are nonunion.
Silverman advises that if developers decide to hire non-union and untrained workers. they may save some money upfront, but if an accident happens, that can cost workers more money in future.
“We just want to make sure that when one of our members and even a non-union construction worker goes to work in the great city Glen Cove, they come home at the end of the day,” Newburger said.