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For Immediate Release
February 3, 2009


Multi-lingual Campaign Urges Construction Workers to Wear Safety Harnesses

Number of Workers who Fell in 2008 More Than Double the Previous Year

Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri today joined Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Guillermo Linares, representatives from the City's leading construction firms, industry unions and worker advocacy groups to announce the launch of a citywide worker safety campaign to encourage construction workers to properly wear their safety harnesses at all times while working at a construction site. Thousands of posters, banners and brochures - in English, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Korean, Hindi and Urdu - will be distributed throughout the City, including high-rise construction sites, designated worker centers, union halls, community centers, telephone kiosks, and the Buildings Department's five borough offices. Commissioner LiMandri announced the worker safety campaign - one of the recommendations from the High-Risk Construction Oversight (HRCO) study - earlier today at McGraw-Hill Construction's BuildSafe New York conference.

In 2008, 84 workers were injured on a construction site as a result of a fall, a 121% increase compared to the previous year, highlighting the need for greater safety awareness on the job site. Of those injuries, more than half were due to human error. Eight of 19 construction-related deaths in 2008 were the result of a worker falling.

"Construction is a dangerous business and workers must take every precaution to protect themselves and their families from the risks of the job. If they don't, the consequences can be catastrophic," said Commissioner LiMandri. "This campaign reminds workers why they work so hard and why they should wear a safety harness - because the future of their family rests on their shoulders."

"This multi-lingual safety harness campaign is critical to help save lives," said Commissioner Linares. "With New York City's growing number of immigrant workers who are unable to speak or read English, this information can mean the difference between life and death."

The campaign's slogan - "If you fall, they fall too" - focuses on the negative impact that a serious injury or death of a construction worker can have on the well-being of his or her family. Employers are required by law to provide construction workers with safety harnesses, but they are often not worn - or connected to the anchorage point at all times - due to a variety of factors, including inconvenience on the job. To encourage the use of safety harnesses, the campaign will include advertisements in major and local newspapers, as well as public radio and television advertisements in the near future.
Later this year, the Department will host its fifth annual Construction Safety Week, a week-long series of free educational seminars and outreach events designed to increase worker awareness of safe construction practices, including how to properly wear and use a safety harness on a construction site.

Eleven representatives from the City's busiest construction firms, industry unions, worker advocacy groups and the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration have committed to distributing materials and displaying campaign posters and banners at their construction sites, offices and worker centers throughout the City. The Department will continue to provide campaign materials to various companies and groups over the coming weeks. The participants involved in today's launch include:

  1. James Abadie, Principal-in-charge, Bovis Lend Lease
  2. James Badame, Chief Operating Officer, Tishman Construction Corporation
  3. Pat DiFilippo, Executive Vice President, Turner Construction Company
  4. Richard Wood, President, Plaza Construction
  5. Louis Coletti, President and CEO, Building Trades Employers' Association
  6. Gary LaBarbara, President, Building and Construction Trades Council
  7. Father Brian Jordan, Pastor, St. Francis of Assisi
  8. Reverend Terry Troia, Executive Director, El Centro de Hospitalidad
  9. Gonzalo Mercado, Director, El Centro del Immigrante
  10. Joel Shufro, Executive Director, New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health
  11. Richard Mendelson, Regional Director, U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration

Contact:     Tony Sclafani/Kate Lindquist (212) 566-3473