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Why experience and training matter in the construction industry

The men and women who make a living working construction in New York City are well-aware of the dangers and hazards that come with the job. On any given day across the city, a construction worker may be required to descend into a deep trench to lay piping, work atop scaffolding to repair a building’s crumbling facade or work in close vicinity to large cranes.

While construction workers in the city are cognizant of the dangers inherent to their jobs, most are trained in how to properly use safety equipment and how to avoid putting both themselves and their fellow-workers in harm’s way. 

However, workers often have to depend on others, including the general contractor or construction manager, their employer, or other contractors, for the safety equipment they need; and frequently, workers are required to work under less than ideal conditions. The risks are increased when developers and contractors put profits ahead of safety, and try to cut corners by hiring inexperienced workers and by failing to maintain proper safety protections.

Unfortunately, a recent rise in injuries and deaths among workers at construction sites has raised concerns among many who contend that the use of inexperienced construction workers by certain developers and contractors is putting everyone’s safety in jeopardy.

During 2014, the Buildings Department reports that a total of eight people died in “construction-related accidents.” During the first six months of this year, that many deaths have already been linked to construction projects throughout the city. While some are quick to reason that the increase in construction accidents and fatalities is attributable to a building boom, it’s important to note that 75 percent of fatalities in 2012 occurred at nonunion job sites.

In a recent article in The New York Times, a representative from the Building Trades Employers’ Association recently discussed concerns about the growing use of nonunion construction workers. More often than not, these workers lack the training and experience that, at a construction work site, can mean the difference between life and death.

Source: The New York Times, “Fatal Construction Accidents Are Rising in New York,” Matt A.V. Chaban, June 2, 2015

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