EDWARD J. MALLOY
PRESIDENT BUILDING AND CONSTRUCTION TRADES COUNCIL OF GREATER NEW YORK
UNITED STATES SENATE
COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENT AND PUBLIC WORKS SUBCOMMITTEE ON CLEAN AIR, WETLANDS, AND CLIMATE CHANGE
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 2002 ALEXANDER HAMILTON U.S. CUSTOMS HOUSE ONE BOWLING GREEN, NEW YORK, NEW YORK
Good morning Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee. My name is Edward J. Malloy. I serve as president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, an organization consisting of sixty affiliated local unions and district councils representing more than 100,000 working men and women in New York City. I also serve as an appointee of Governor George E. Pataki to the eleven-member Board of Directors of the Lower Manhattan Redevelopment Corporation. Thank you for the opportunity to testify before the subcommittee and for bringing this hearing to New York.
On the morning of September 11, 2001, nearly every unionized construction project in New York City shut down as workers rushed to Ground Zero. In the early days of this tragedy, it is estimated that more than ten thousand of our members volunteered their skills on the site. In the ensuing weeks and months since, when the City of New York's Department of Design and Construction (DDC) assigned recovery and clean-up responsibilities to a team of the area's most respected contractors, approximately two thousand of our members per day were employed in two around-the-clock shifts of twelve hours each. Today, as this recovery and clean-up effort moves toward conclusion, several hundred of our members remain on the job.
In testifying before the subcommittee this morning, we would like to draw your attention to two areas of interest and concern. The first is the record on measurable safety and health data and the partnership between labor, management, and government which has produced rather impressive results in this regard. The second is the less certain issue of how we address safety and health exposures which are not as easily detectable as common bumps and bruises. On this second front, although significant efforts through our safety and health partnership have been made to prevent such exposures, there is an immediate need for clinical medical services to be made available to identify and treat any conditions that may not have been prevented or yet detected.
First, on November 20, 2001, the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York joined with the Building Trades Employers Association, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and other public and private entities working at Ground Zero to implement an emergency safety and health partnership agreement on the site. A copy of this agreement is attached to our testimony for your consideration. It should be stressed that prior to this agreement being executed, labor and management in our industry had been working under less formal but effective means with OSHA and DDC to assure the implementation of a safety and health program in which every member of the building and construction industry on the site was required to participate.
The results of this partnership and other cooperative efforts are encouraging. With more than two million hours of labor completed, there have been ninety-six claims for workers' compensation reported. Of these claims, thirteen have resulted in lost time due to injury or illness. No deaths or life-threatening injuries have occurred. All experts with whom we have consulted advise that the number of injuries and illnesses, as well as their relative severity, are well below what might have been expected. It is our intention, with both a continuation and expansion of the commitment to safety and health, that this record be maintained and improved. As we are sure the subcommittee is aware, however, the circumstances of this project dictate that good providence in addition to the most diligent human attention to safety and health concerns will be required if our intentions are to be fulfilled.
The second matter of concern pertains to the need for clinical medical services to be made available to every individual who has either resided, volunteered, or been employed at Ground Zero or in the nearby vicinity, particularly in the earliest days of this tragedy when it would seem that the potential for exposures to contaminants was at its highest. We appreciate Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton's efforts to secure $12 million for this purpose and submit to the subcommittee that additional funding must be provided to assure that every individual whose health has potentially been adversely affected by activities at or near Ground Zero is able to receive clinical medical services.
It is vitally important that individuals who may have been exposed to contaminants be screened and, if necessary, treated. Doing so will assure to the highest degree possible that conditions which can be treated and resolved are, and that conditions which may entail longer term consequences can be treated in a way that mitigates or even eliminates such consequences.
Taking action on this matter in a timely fashion will not only minimize the potential for human suffering, but also represent a responsible approach to minimizing the negative fiscal implications of healthcare and insurance costs which have come to be associated with the events of September 11.
It is also really important that these services be made available in a well-organized and centrally accountable manner so that a comprehensive and professional evaluation can be made of what the systemic exposures to contaminants and health problems at Ground Zero have been. To date, the majority of scientific evaluation of which we are aware has occurred with regard to monitoring contaminants in the air, water, and soil. It has not occurred as thoroughly in monitoring the blood, respiratory, and other body systems of human beings who may have been harmed by these exposures. We have attached for your consideration an initial proposal by the Mount Sinai Medical Center to provide the clinical medical services needed to address this situation for members of the building and construction industry. We of course support such services being made available to any other affected individuals.
Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, the losses and devastation caused by the events of September 11 are well-known. It is imperative that every effort be made to assure that no further unnecessary and preventable tragedies result, whether ten days or ten years from now. The provision of funding to make clinical medical services available to all individuals who need them is among the most important work that we believe the federal government can undertake going forward. We do not hesitate to argue that it is a particular moral obligation to assure that those men and women who responded so selflessly and even heroically to the events of September 11 receive every possible consideration for their well-being that can be offered. We will be pleased to cooperate with you in every way to achieve this goal.