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Boston Talks Timeline for Essential Construction

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

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Last week, the city of Boston released a timeline of an incremental reopening of the construction industry, noting that all sites that are currently open are in compliance with the COVID-19 guidelines that the city rolled out late last month.

While the city released dates for the rollout (which began last week) it noted that it reserves that right to “modify and/or adjust allowable work or implementation dates based upon public health, safety or capacity to issue permits, conduct inspections and coordinate work consistent with the city’s COVID-19 safety policies.”

City Background

On March 17, Walsh first banned all construction in the city for 14 days after reporting at the time that just 33 people were infected with COVID-19.

vichie81 / Getty Images

Last week, the city of Boston released a timeline of an incremental reopening of the construction industry, noting that all sites that are currently open are in compliance with the COVID-19 guidelines that the city rolled out late last month.

All projects—regardless of size—were stopped in the city except for what the Mayor called “emergency projects,” such as:

  • emergency utility, road or building work, such as gas leaks, water leaks and sinkholes;
  • new utility connections to occupied buildings;
  • mandated building or utility work;
  • work at public health facilities, healthcare facilities, shelters, including temporary shelters and other facilities that support vulnerable populations;
  • work which ensures the reliability of the transportation network; and
  • other work necessary to render occupied residential buildings fully habitable.

The city also said that it would evaluate projects on a case-by-case basis for exceptions, such as support for public health and safety.

Walsh, who at one point ran the Building Trades Unions organization (which supported the decision), acknowledged that there were more than 100 large projects ongoing in the city. Crews were directed to maintain the necessary people to secure sites, which needs to be completed by March 23. Afterward, skeleton crews were permitted to ensure safety.

“This is a worldwide pandemic and our public health community has made clear that social distancing is the only way to combat this virus,” said Brian Doherty, the head of the Building Trades, an umbrella organization for Boston.

“We will be working with our unions and with our contractor partners to make sure every worker is safe and secure, and we are confident that by working together as a community, we will get through this difficult time.”

By the end of the month, Walsh had extended the moratorium indefinitely.

"The safety and health of construction workers and all residents of Boston is my first priority, and I am not willing to put that at risk as the virus spreads throughout our communities," said Walsh at the time.

"Large gatherings such as those at construction sites have been proven to escalate the spread of the virus, and Boston must do everything in its power to flatten the curve and stop the spread of coronavirus."

At the end of last month, Boston began releasing guidelines for the construction industry to operate during the pandemic.

The rules mandate that all contractors need to create a “COVID-19 Safety Plan” that is to include how the contractor will enforce social distancing and provide the necessary sanitation. The contractors will have to sign affidavits swearing that they’ll follow the plans.

The guidelines went into effect on April 27 and at the time officials said that they would expand to all construction “eventually.”

What Now

The timeline that was released on May 5 includes:

  • May 5 - Essential construction projects with approved safety plans and signed affidavits filed with the appropriate regulatory agencies will be authorized to prepare the site with project-specific COVID-19 safety measures.
  • May 18 - Boston will allow essential construction projects on sites that meet the following criteria: Projects are permitted, in compliance and have filed a COVID-19 safety plan and a signed affidavit; project sites are sufficiently prepared to adhere to all criteria of their safety plan; and the work is for hospitals, public schools, residential buildings (1-3 units), road and utility work or other outdoor/open air-work such as steel erection, roofing and constructing foundations.
  • May 26 - Boston will allow all essential construction projects to re-commence construction activities in adherence to their safety plans.

This city says that this incremental approach will “provide the time necessary to allow complex, large-scale development an opportunity to educate their workforce, safely remobilize and implement their site-specific Safety Plan.”

While the city noted that its Department of Public Works and Inspectional Services Department inspectors will be monitoring sites, it also noted that it will be providing testing services for the construction industry at the Tufts COVID-19 Screening Clinic in the city’s Chinatown neighborhood.

View all of PaintSquare Daily News' coverage on COVID-19, here.


Tagged categories: Construction; COVID-19; Government; Health & Safety; Health and safety; NA; North America; Regulations; Safety

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