City, unions site last week’s construction death as sign of industry-wide problem

Construction groups oppose new legislation [CC0]
Construction groups oppose new legislation [CC0]


New York City’s buildings and investigation departments are currently investigating the death last week of construction worker Wilfredo Enriques, but both City and union officials are already calling for increased standards to help prevent future deaths, Politico reports.

City buildings commissioner Rick Chandler called Enriques’s death “preventable” in a statement.  “Our message to construction professionals is simple: Experience is not enough. Taking a few extra moments to ensure safety guards are in place before working can be the difference between life and death.”

Enrique was working at the former Domino Sugar Refinery, which is undergoing redevelopment set to open next summer, when he suffered a two-story fall, cracking his helmet on a steel beam. He’d have likely been fine had the harness he was wearing been secured. 

Gary LaBarbera, president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, pointed out that Domino wasn’t a union project, just as 26 of the 29 NYC construction workers to have died in the past two years have died been at non-union sites.

“Anyone that denies there’s not a difference between safety on a union and nonunion site is delusional. The facts are overwhelming,” LaBarbera told Politico.

LaBarbera is calling for the City Council to pass a bill, introduced nearly one year ago, to mandate apprenticeship programs on buildings over 10-stories. 

Both the Real Estate Board of New York, which represents developers, and Associated Builders and Contractors in New York, which represents non-union workers, object to the bill, and Mayor Bill de Blasio has not yet made a statement regarding whether he approves of it.

12/12/2016 1:32 PM by David Kinzer

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