Advocates say council bill will save hard hats’ lives

September 28, 2017 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Ligia Guallpa, executive director of the Workers Justice Project, says the new bill is “the right step toward building a city that protects and ensures all workers have the right to a safe workplace.” Eagle file photo by Paula Katinas
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A construction site safety bill passed by the City Council on Wednesday will go a long way toward saving the lives of hard hats, according to a workers’ advocacy group that pushed for a vote on the legislation.

Ligia Guallpa, executive director of the Worker’s Justice Project, came out strongly in favor of Intro. 1447-C, a bill that would mandate increased safety training standards at construction sites around the city.

“It is the right step toward building a city that protects and ensures all workers have the right to a safe workplace,” she said in a statement issued by the Worker’s Justice Project.

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Under the bill, all construction contractors, union and non-union, would be required to provide a basic, standard level of safety training for all workers. Union contractors already provide training due to collective bargaining agreements they have with the various unions. Workers can’t report for duty at a construction site unless they can demonstrate that they have completed the training.

But the new bill would also require non-union contractors and property developers to provide similar safety training courses.

The legislation, which sailed through the Council’s Housing Committee by a unanimous vote earlier this month, was drafted in response to deadly accidents at construction sites in which workers were killed.

The most recent fatality took place on Sept. 21, when two construction workers fell from 1 Manhattan West, a skyscraper under construction in the Hudson Yards in Manhattan. The workers plunged approximately 35 feet while operating a forklift cage that collapsed, authorities said. One of the workers died in the accident.

Earlier that same day, a worker fell to his death at a construction site in lower Manhattan.

Following the committee’s approval of the bill, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Housing Committee Chairman Jumaane Williams (D-Flatbush) and Councilmember Carlos Menchaca (D-Sunset Park-Red Hook), chairman of the Committee on Immigration, issued a joint statement.

“Throughout negotiations on Introduction 1447-C, we have remained committed to working with advocates and stakeholders on developing legislation that both educates and protects the scores of construction site laborers working around the city. Establishing site safety training requirements and mandating the creation of an equal access informational program goes far in accomplishing that mission, and we are proud of the collaboration between the City Council and the administration that saw $4 million contributed toward the realization of this goal,” the statement reads.

It’s a matter of saving lives, according to the Worker’s Justice Project, which pointed out that a number of victims in deadly construction accidents are immigrant workers.

“No more deaths need to be associated with NYC’s growth and expansion. The number of fatal and serious construction accidents continues to increase at an alarming rate, especially among Latino construction workers. According to a recent report, 57 percent of the construction workers who died due to falls were Latino, even though Latinos comprise 30 percent of the construction workforce,” the Workers Justice Project statement reads.

Guallpa and other leaders of the Worker’s Justice Project vowed to work with the City Council to ensure that the bill is effectively implemented if it is signed into law by Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The group is calling on the council to ensure that adequate resources are made available to organizations that train non-union and immigrant workers.

The Worker’s Justice Project was founded in Brooklyn more than 10 years ago by advocates for the rights of immigrants.

The organization operates the Bensonhurst Job Center, a hiring hall located at 8973 Bay Parkway, next to the Caesar’s Bay Shopping Mall in Bensonhurst. The job center connects employers with skilled workers offering a variety of services including cleaning, moving, demolition, carpentry, roofing, painting, masonry and snow removal.


For more information on the Worker’s Justice Project, visit

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