NEW YORK, NY – With the number of construction-related deaths on the rise, city investigators are showing up at job sites and arresting workers with fake safety training cards.
In the past 12 months, nine workers fell to their deaths, almost always at job sites where safety measures were nonexistent. Several were crushed to death by walls that weren’t properly braced. Improperly secured steel trusses rolled on top of another worker.
Workers are required to take safety courses run by the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) to reduce accidents at job sites, but over the years there’s been a growing problem with workers blowing off the courses and using fraudulent OSHA cards to claim they’re trained.
Since the beginning of the year, more than 20 workers with allegedly bogus OSHA cards have been busted at city construction sites, sources familiar with the crackdown said.
The sweep — carried out by the Department of Investigation and the Buildings Department — comes as construction fatalities in New York City jumped to 18 in the last federal fiscal year, up from 12 the year before.
The latest arrests took place Oct. 17 with five workers led away in handcuffs at two sites where housing is going up in Queens and the Bronx.
Members of DOI, the Buildings Department and NYPD detectives arrested the five for possessing what they say are fake OSHA cards. Another 19 workers were pulled off the two job sites because they had no OSHA cards at all.
A buildings department spokesman said over the last 18 months “numerous inspectors from the Scaffold Safety unit visited various sites where they identified workers carrying OSHA and scaffold training cards that appeared fraudulent.” The incidents were referred to DOI which “made arrests when necessary.”