NYCOSH to NYC: Arresting workers for fake OSHA cards is wrong


Photo: New York Committee for Occupational Safety & Health

New York – The New York Committee for Occupational Safety & Health is upset about the recent arrests of New York City construction workers who allegedly possessed fake OSHA cards.

OSHA cards are issued after completion of a 10- or 30-hour training course.

Members of the advocacy group wrote a letter Oct. 26 to the commissioner of the New York City Department of Buildings, which co-led a recent sweep that resulted in five worker arrests.

Targeting workers is misguided and could hinder safety rather than promote it, NYCOSH says. Instead, employers and contractors should be the focus of any safety-related investigations.

In its letter, NYCOSH offered to work with the city to implement effective worker protection programs. The group also recommended partnering with community organizations, unions, workers’ centers and other entities that could help improve safety.

“If workers know that they will be arrested by Department of Buildings and NYPD, they are not likely to cooperate with any investigations into contractor health and safety,” NYCOSH Executive Director Charlene Obernauer said in the letter. “Workers will not trust the Department of Buildings or see it as a resource, when it criminalizes rather than protect (sic) them. Parading workers out of a job site in handcuffs is a sure way to destroy the trust of a community of workers that can take years to rebuild.”