A proposed construction safety law that will set minimum fines for companies found criminally liable for workers’ deaths will likely make progress in Albany because of its joint support from both business and labor groups.
An updated version of Carlos’ Law, named after 22-year old Carlos Moncayo, would set a minimum $500,000 fine for a felony and $300,000 for a misdemeanor, has been in the works since 2017, The Real Deal has reported.
Moncayo was killed seven years ago when the walls of an excavation pit collapsed on him at a construction site in the Meatpacking District. General contractor Harco Construction was convicted of manslaughter, but only needed to pay a $10,000 fine — the maximum that could be levied by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
The Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) — which traditionally has opposed measures that would raise costs — has decided to support the law after its wording was changed so so that developers wouldn’t be liable for contractors’ safety violations.
Other backers include the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA) Mason Tenders’ District Council.
“We are proud to partner on sensible and effective legislation that makes clear that companies who shirk their obligation to protect their workers will face serious consequences,” the groups said in a joint statement to the Real Deal.
“Mike Hellstrom, business manager at the Mason Tenders’ District Council, believes higher fines will make developers and contractors more wary of hiring unsafe contractors, which in the view of organized labor are typically nonunion contractors,” the Real Deal story says. “A $10,000 fine could be viewed as the cost of doing business in the city, but penalties north of $500,000 may give companies pause, Hellstrom indicated.”
“They may start second-guessing the hiring of a rogue contractor,” he said. “It takes a lot of actions to change behaviors.”
From RENBY’s perspective, “the amended bill appears to represent a compromise that prevents a worst-case scenario of the original bill passing over the objections of the real estate group, not to mention the bad optics of opposing a construction safety bill.”