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NYC real estate industry issues guidelines for safe return to work

 With nearly two-thirds of Manhattan office employees expected to return to the workplace by the end of September, the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), SEIU 32BJ, the Realty Advisory Board on Labor Relations, Inc. (RAB), Local 94 International Union of Operating Engineers, and the Building Owners and Managers Association of Greater New York (BOMA) today issued new comprehensive guidelines to support the safe and healthy return of employees, residents and building service workers to office and residential buildings throughout New York City.

A summary of the guidelines can be found here.

As with previous building safety protocols released by this coalition of industry leaders over the past year, these guidelines will help building owners, managers and workers maintain appropriate health and safety protocols as the City’s economic recovery process moves forward.

The new guidelines are based on the latest recommendations of governmental and public health authorities, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the New York State and City Departments of Health.

The number of workers returning to the office on a regular basis has increased steadily over the past few weeks, with about 24 percent of New York metro area employees back in the office as of July 14, according to data released by Kastle Systems. Approximately 62 percent of Manhattan office employees are expected to return to the office by the end of September, according to a June survey released by the Partnership for New York City.

“As New York City moves forward on the path to long-term recovery, the ongoing return of office workers is driving a spirit of optimism and much-needed economic activity that will continue to increase over the coming months. Throughout this process, close collaboration with labor union leaders has played a pivotal role in providing comprehensive guidance for health and safety protocols in buildings throughout the City,” said REBNY President James Whelan. “We appreciate the building service workers who do such an incredible job of keeping New York City’s buildings clean and safe and we are proud to once again partner with 32BJ and Local 94 on this important effort.”

“Our members have provided essential services throughout the pandemic, to keep those sheltering in place safe, and to maintain properties ready for the eventual return to offices and other commercial spaces, and we have worked diligently with real estate industry leaders to find ways to work safely,” said SEIU 32BJ President Kyle Bragg. “We are gratified with the productive partnership we have had with the industry throughout this terrible crisis, and are confident that we will continue to work together with a common purpose to protect all New Yorkers as we move to restore our city’s economy.”

“Throughout the pandemic, we are proud to have worked closely with union and industry leaders to ensure that tenants, staff and visitors of commercial and residential buildings are protected,” said Howard Rothschild, President of the Realty Advisory Board on Labor Relations. “Now, as more and more people return to their offices, these new guidelines will keep the New York real estate community at the forefront of health and safety.”

“As we move on to the next phase of recovery, the members of Local 94 stand proud as essential workers who will continue in ensuring the health and safety of those who enter our buildings, schools, hospitals and power plants. We look forward to working collaboratively with our industry partners 32BJ and REBNY in addressing any and all issues as we strive to bring our city back,” said Local 94 Business Manager Kuba J. Brown.

“Building owners and managers are working together with labor to ensure that workers coming back to their offices are safe, comfortable, and productive,” said Hani Salama, Chair and Chief Executive Officer of BOMA New York. “This health and safety guidance should reassure everyone that their work environment is safe, and that we are getting back to normal, which is what is needed to bring New York City back to the vital and thriving place it has always been.”

The new guidelines will continue to be updated based on any new requirements or guidance issued by governmental and public health authorities.

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