New York, NY—As the City Council continues discussing ways to increase construction safety, the Associated Builders and Contractors, Empire State Chapter today held a press conference on the steps of City Hall urging the Council to introduce and pass legislation mandating drug and alcohol testing on all New York City construction sites. Joshua Reap, ABC Empire State Chapter’s vice president of public affairs, was joined at the press conference by construction companies of the ABC.
Around one-third of all incidents on construction sites nationwide are drug- or alcohol-related, according to the Associated Builders and Contractors 2017 Safety Performance Report. The ABC report also found that companies with a robust substance abuse program had a total recordable incident rate 36 percent lower than companies without a substance abuse program.
Today’s press conference highlighted that numerous City agencies already require drug testing – in many cases for jobs that are less dangerous than construction, which is widely acknowledged as one of the most dangerous lines of work. Along with jobs at the NYPD, FDNY and Dept. of Corrections, City agencies that mandate drug testing for at least some employees include:
• Dept. of Parks and Recreation: drug tests for urban park rangers
• Dept. of Sanitation: drug tests for employees using a commercial driver’s license
• Dept. of Education: drug tests for construction laborers and construction project managers who will be working on DOE sites
• Dept. of Buildings: drug tests for construction site inspectors
“It’s absurd that New York City doesn’t require drug and alcohol testing in one of our most dangerous industries, even as City workers are already drug tested for less dangerous jobs,” said Joshua Reap, vice president of public affairs for the Associated Builders and Contractors, Empire State Chapter. “This is a clear policy failure that can be easily fixed by the City Council, which has said it is committed to increasing construction safety. The data shows that when contractors implement drug and alcohol testing, their construction sites become safer. It’s a no-brainer – if the City Council really wants to take every step to keep workers safe, it should act now to mandate drug and alcohol testing on all construction sites.”
Reap emphasized that the proposed drug and alcohol testing policy can and should be conducted by an independent third-party – not law enforcement – just as other screening programs currently use. The goal of this policy would be to increase safety for all workers by ensuring that no one is intoxicated on a worksite – not to target workers with criminal penalties or turn them over to law enforcement.
“This is not about blaming or targeting workers – this is about keeping all workers safer by doing everything we can to ensure that no one is under the influence on a dangerous construction site,” Reap added. “If your friend or family were a construction worker, wouldn’t you want their worksite to be free of drugs and alcohol?”
Reap also highlighted that the City Council has ignored the issue of drug and alcohol testing in one of its current construction safety proposals, known as Intro. 1447. ABC Empire State Chapter and many other industry stakeholders have strongly opposed Intro. 1447 because it will not fully address the need to increase safety, and it will also have deeply negative impacts on local hiring efforts and MWBE participation in the construction industry.
ABC Empire State Chapter has previously urged the City Council to include a drug and alcohol testing policy in Intro. 1447 but the Council has thus far failed to take that step.
Watch the complete press conference here.