NY Mayor Signs New Construction Safety Laws, Issues 9/11 Health Report
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed legislation last week strengthening oversight and enforcement of the city's construction industry. He also released a new report highlighting the latest medical research the city has implemented resulting from the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
The mayor's signing of Introductory Number 783-A requires that there be concrete safety managers on job sites of 10 stories or more that pour a minimum of 2000 cubic yards of concrete. It also requires these safety managers to register with the Department of Buildings (DOB) and to continually monitor concrete operations for compliance with safe practices and building regulations. Candidates for these positions will be required to demonstrate adequate experience and undergo extensive training, which DOB will develop in consultation with industry and labor. Concrete safety managers will have to be available to the department at all times, and, along with the contractor, will be issued violations with escalating penalties for safety infractions related to concrete work.
Bloomberg's signing of Introductory Number 790-A enhances requirements for the site safety plans submitted by site safety managers to the department. It requires site safety managers to include in their plans a statement that workers have successfully completed a 10-hour OSHA course on construction safety and health within five years of working on the site. Workers will be required to carry proof that they have completed the course. Furthermore, the plan will describe the training that workers will receive that is pertinent to the tasks they are performing at the site.
In highlighting the latest medical research on 9/11, Bloomberg said the city has committed $100 million in funds over five years for the 9/11-related health agenda and that all 15 of the recommendations laid out in the 2007 report <>< 9="" of="" impacts="" health="" the="">have been completed or are underway, including:
- Expanding treatment services at Bellevue Hospital, Elmhurst Hospital Center, and Gouverneur Healthcare Services, where more than 2,800 New Yorkers have been treated to date for 9/11-related problems;
- Enrolling more than 1,000 New Yorkers in a new financial reimbursement program for people receiving 9/11-related mental health services;
- Launching a comprehensive Web site for 9/11 health information and service listings (the site has had more than 300,000 visits to date, he noted); and
- Disseminating 9/11 medical treatment guidelines to 40,000 health professionals, and sending health information regularly to more than 5,000 residents and city employees.
In the aftermath of 9/11, respiratory symptoms were common among people who breathed in the dust, smoke, and fumes released by the collapse of the World Trade Center. Respiratory symptoms have subsided over time for many but have persisted for some, including firefighters, 25 percent of whom had symptoms two to four years after the event. Lung function also has declined among some workers, the mayor said, citing the latest report from the WTC Medical Working Group. In surveys conducted two to three years after 9/11, rescue and recovery workers, Lower Manhattan residents, and area workers developed new cases of asthma at two to three times the expected rate. Studies on cancer risk or increased risk of death are underway, but the results are not yet available because of long latency periods of many potentially fatal diseases, the report notes. Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) were common during the first six months after the attacks. The report says these symptoms resolved quickly for most people, yet two to three years after the event rescue workers and area residents still had elevated rates of PTSD. Depression and substance abuse have not been fully evaluated among those most heavily affected, but these problems have not increased in the general New York City population since 9/11, according to the report.
"We have answered the call for help from those who have suffered health problems as a result of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack," Bloomberg said. "We're helping people heal, both physically and emotionally, and we will continue to reach out to thosein need. Seven years after the attack, greater federal support is still crucial to sustaining the research and treatment that we have started. We will keep fighting for the support these critically important programs deserve."