State Senator Jose Peralta and New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE) are pushing for the proposed bill, which aims to protect construction workers from employers who fail to comply with required safety protocols.
The legislation, which is currently in committee in both houses, is named after Carlos Moncayo, an immigrant worker who was buried alive at a construction site in 2015.
“Employers have to be held accountable for job site hazards and for putting their employees’ lives at risk,” Peralta said.
Under this proposal, developers who ignore workplace safety protocols would be held accountable and could face fines and penalties of up to $500,000.
Peralta, who is a lead sponsor of the bill, explained that fewer than 80 workplace fatalities have been prosecuted out of more than 400 cases, and only about a dozen led to convictions since Congress enacted the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) laws.
In the past decade, about 500 workers were killed at a construction site in New York.
“Construction is one of the most hazardous and dangerous industries,” Peralta said.
In particular, a 2013 report by the Center for Popular Democracy concluded that 75 percent of construction workers who died on the job between 2003 and 2011 were U.S.-born Latinos or immigrants.
Based on the report, 60 percent of the fall death cases investigated by OSHA were Hispanic or immigrants. In New York, the percentage stands at 74 percent and 88 percent in Queens, respectively.
Manuel Castro, executive director of NICE, said Carlos’ Law would bring justice to construction workers who have died at construction sites and prevent future worker deaths.
According to Castro, the verdict for Carlos’ death resulted in a $10,000 fine that left the community devastated.
“We had not expected that it would be so low and that the consequences for worker death would be so little,” he said.
Less than two months ago, Edgar Pazmino, a member of NICE, was killed in a forklift accident at a construction site in Jamaica.
Despite the expectations of danger at construction sites, Castro emphasized that employers need to take all the precautions necessary to protect their workers.
“We are raising our voice now because we can't wait for another worker to die,” he said. “We want something to happen now.”