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The true cost of new safety regulations

According to a recent Mayor’s Management Report, worker injuries in New York City this year are on the increase from 526 to 622. In response to the 18 percent jump in serious and fatal accidents, the city’s chief executive Bill de Blasio signed a recently passed bill.

The new bill passed unanimously in the New York State Assembly and signed by the mayor mandates at least 40 hours of safety training for 185,000 construction workers.

Many see the rise in accidents running concurrent with growth in the city’s construction activity. However, de Blasio believes the increase in injures is the result of poor management and placing profits over safe work environments.

Opponents to the law see it as an effort to negatively affect non-union workers while providing significant advantages, if not an outright handout to organized labor. According to John Banks, president of the Real Estate Board of New York, thousands of workers could be without jobs.

Traditionally, unions cover their members’ training costs. Non-union will have to foot the bill for training. In addition, limited classroom capacities will force them to compete for seats with their union counterparts.

Paying tuition will represent a significant cost considering the new law requires all workers to receive 10 hours of training before working on buildings 10 stories or taller. That represents a significant burden for non-union construction workers who go from job to job. Union members who previously took courses will receive exemptions.

The bill also calls for fines for those who do not undergo the mandated training.

The $5 million initiative takes effect on March 1, 2018.

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