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DOB to start issuing violations to COVID scofflaws

New York City’s Department of Building’s inspectors will start issuing tickets to contractors who aren’t keeping their workers and sites COVID-safe today.

30 days into the phased reopening of the city and the resumption of non-essential construction activity in all five boroughs, the DOB said the grace period for instituting mandatory health and sanitation regulations for work sites is over.

“Starting today, July 8, the DOB will start issuing disciplinary enforcement actions for failure to comply with the COVID-19 regulations,” said the department in a statement.

Last month, the DOB began working with city contractors to devise new rules to protect workers and the public against the spread of coronavirus. The Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York (BCTC) and the Building Trades Employers’ Association (BTEA) also drew up an agreement to remobilize New York City’s construction industry.

The new rules included mandatory face coverings, social distancing, cleaning protocols, educational signage, and record keeping. Key to the remobilization plan was reducing worker density on construction sites and the agreement outlined measures to reduce worker density while maintaining productivity, including employing staggered start times, shift work and other alternative work schedules.

In the past month, DOB construction inspectors have conducted multiple site visits to each of the over 40,000 active construction sites in New York City, making sure the  mandatory COVID-19 health and safety regulations were being followed.  Contractors not implementing the new safeguards were issued  guidance and instructions on how to bring their work sites up to code.

As of today, contractors who are found to be flouting the COVID rules will be subject to violations with initial civil penalties of $5,000 for each offense, as well as Stop Work Orders.

Construction sites that fail to have a safety plan posted at the site or fail to have at least one hand washing/sanitizing facility will be issued a Stop Work Order.

“Our city’s construction industry know what is expected of them to help stop the spread of COVID-19 while work continues, and our inspectors will be out in force to ensure they are living up to those expectations,” said the DOB.

The BCTC and BTEA have formed an oversight committee that is monitoring on-the-ground activity. The oversight committee, which includes REBNY, also reviews any submissions by construction managers on projects that have uncertain status as to essential or non-essential designation, or projects that may have been stalled due to the pandemic.

“The safety of our members is always our foremost priority. From the beginning of the pandemic, we worked collaboratively with Governor Cuomo and his administration, alongside union contractors and the real estate community, to institute safety protocols that would go above and beyond in protecting the health and safety of workers,” said Gary LaBarbera, President of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York.

GARY LABARBERA

“These protocols kept workers on essential sites safe at the height of the pandemic and continue to keep workers safe as non-essential construction is remobilized. For the BCTC, it was always about reaching an outcome that would keep workers healthy and safe and restart New York’s economy.

“From the positive feedback we continue to receive from members back on their worksites and our affiliated unions, we’re confident that outcome has been achieved.”

New York City has over 100,000 unionized construction workers and many thousands of other workers in a supervisory or supply-chain roles.

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