2002-09-28 / Community

Construction Safety Act

Could Prevent Disasters

Could Prevent Disasters

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has joined with Reps. Sherwood Boehlert, Anthony Weiner, and Christopher Shays to announce passage of the National Construction Safety Team Act. The bill, which was approved in the Senate and House, has been sent to the President for his signature.

The National Construction Safety Team Act provides for the establishment of investigative teams to assess building performance and emergency response and evacuation procedures in the wake of any building failure that has resulted in substantial loss of life or that posed significant potential for loss of life.

The legislation will remove legal and bureaucratic roadblocks that have stood in the way of the Federal Emergency Management Agency in its investigation of disasters like the World Trade Center collapse. It will also allow National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to use its new powers in the WTC investigation.

"We owe it to the families of the victims to ask the hard questions about what happened to the WTC on September 11," Senator Clinton said. "While we cannot bring their loved ones back, the lessons we learn will equip us with the tools we need to help make sure no other families will have to suffer as they have suffered. By empowering the government to properly investigate major structural failure we are taking a big step forward toward preventing future disasters and loss of life."

The legislation will give the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) significantly greater powers to investigate major building collapses. As a result of the legislation, NIST will be able to:

- send special National Construction Safety Teams to disaster sites;

- have full access to such sites;

- issue subpoenas to obtain information and preserve evidence.

On May 9, 2002, Senator Clinton introduced the "National Construction Safety Team Act" (S 2496) in the Senate as the companion bill to one introduced in the House by Congressman Boehlert. Senators Schumer, Lieberman and Dodd are co-sponsors of the bill.

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