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NYC Begins COVID-19 Safety Enforcement

Thursday, July 23, 2020

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During the first days of enforcing COVID-19 safety regulations on construction sites, New York City’s Department of Buildings issued 88 citations, which included 41 stop work orders, according to reports.

Andrew Rudanksy, press secretary for the DOB, said in a recent interview that NYC received 6,127 complains against contractors for possible COVID-19-related jobsite violations since March 30.

Despite the numbers, the spokesperson said that largely, construction workers in the city have been compliant with all of the safety protocols since the reopening.

“A large chunk of the construction industry was really paying attention to what New York City went through the past couple months and took the pandemic and trying to slow the spread of the pandemic very seriously,” he said.

OlegAlbinsky / Getty Images

During the first days of enforcing COVID-19 safety regulations on construction sites, New York City’s Department of Buildings issued 88 citations, which included 41 stop work orders, according to reports.

Rudansky noted that the DOB—which uses Geographic Information System technology (an interactive mapping tool) to guide inspectors to the city’s 40,000 jobsites—is also relying heavily on calls from residents to 311.

“It has been encouraging,” Rudansky said. “Workers on site and members of the public have really collaborated with us to let us know if a site might be a problem.”

NYC Pandemic Reopening

At the end of April, Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued his plan for reopening the state in the several phases; construction and manufacturing started off Phase 1.

The plan is to be implemented in phases based on regional analysis and recommendations from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, which say that once a region experiences a 14-day decline in the hospitalization rate of COVID-19 cases, the area can begin reopening.

At the time of the announcement, Cuomo noted that the state would be “closely monitoring the hospitalization rate, the infection rate and the number of positive antibody tests, as well as the overall public health impact and will make adjustments to the plan and other decisions based on these indicators.”

Along with construction and manufacturing, agriculture, wholesale trade and curbside and in-store retail pickup were all also reopened.

The city estimates about 3,700 manufacturing companies, 16,000 non-essential retails business and 23,000 construction sites have been reopened.

In order to reopen, businesses had to certify with the state that they could abide by new safety regulations.

“In the construction industry, by the nature of the tasks that are at hand, it’s not always possible to social distance,” said Gary LaBarbera, President of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, in an interview with The New York Times.

The unions reached an agreement with contractors and developers to mitigate risk, he said, including staggered shifts, altered start times and more flexible hours, like a four-day workweek with 10-hour days.

During the suspension of nonessential work, the Department of Buildings had been fining violators up to $10,000. Now, the inspectors will be visiting every job site in the city.

On June 8, New York City began opening up nonessential construction sites as directed by the phased reopening, which let an estimated 400,000 workers return to construction and manufacturing sites.

For the first 30 days the DOB provided guidance on how to fix noncompliance instead of citations.

   

Tagged categories: Citations; COVID-19; Health & Safety; Health and safety; NA; North America; Safety

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