New York City is one of the world’s busiest construction hubs. It was also one of the global cities most deeply impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, construction within the city diminished significantly over the spring months. Stringent new laws and regulations limited the type of construction work that could be done, while also laying out new safety guidelines to help protect workers.
As virus case numbers drop and New York begins to reopen, however, these construction limitations are now falling away. As of June 8, builders received the green light to restart projects that are considered “non-essential,” a move that returns New York City to fully unrestricted construction.
While this is certainly progress in a sense, it also raises some important questions about how to keep workers protected.
Construction is Restarting — but the Virus Remains
While COVID-19 case counts have declined significantly, New York is still reporting new cases daily. In total, the city has seen more than 206,000 confirmed cases and 22,000 deaths. This means that while New Yorkers are trending in the right direction, the virus is still very much a concern.
Currently, operators of construction projects seeking to begin or restart must fulfill a variety of steps and guidelines set forth by New York city and state and federal agencies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
All businesses must begin by completing and filing a Business Affirmation form with the state of New York that says they understand the latest safety guidelines and will faithfully implement them. Some of the safety guidelines in effect include the following:
- Ensure workers remain socially distant whenever possible (six feet away).
- Handwashing facilities and sanitizing options should be available.
- Face masks must be work where specified.
- Cleaning and disinfection logs must be maintained.
- Certain spaces on the work site may require lower capacity (such as elevators)
- Site safety monitors must be designated and comprehensive logs must be kept detailing personnel movements (to assist with contact tracing).
Given the complexity and evolving nature of these rules, the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) is taking a hands-on approach with construction businesses in terms of education and awareness.
During the first phase of reopening, the DOB will waive penalties on non-compliance with safety rules. Work sites may still generate violations, but the financial penalty may be waived. However, if repeated violations occur, each violation may result in a $5,000 fine.
Finding A Construction Site Accident Attorney
While These regulations are designed to protect workers, it is inevitable that some work site operators will fail to implement them effectively, thereby exposing workers to unnecessary risk. If this scenario applies to you, it’s imperative that you seek legal counsel.
At The Frankel Law Firm, we have been fighting for the legal rights of injured persons for more than 40 years. If you need help, don’t hesitate to reach out to us today at (212) 888-5100 or at frankellawfirm.com. All plaintiff construction injury cases which are accepted are on a contingency basis which means that there will be no attorneys fee unless successful. Given the coronavirus pandemic, we can arrange for a free consultation by Facetime, Zoom, Skype or WhatsApp. Please feel free to give us a call.
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