New York shuts 41 sites down as Covid safety rules come into force

Acting on spot inspections and calls from the public, New York City’s Department of Buildings (DOB) issued 41 stop-work orders at construction sites between 8-13 July, the week the DOB started enforcing Covid-19 site safety protocols.

New Yorkers have lodged 6,127 complaints against contractors for Covid safety violations since 30 March using the city’s 311 phone system, a DOB spokesperson told industry news site Construction Dive. 

The DOB unveiled its Covid safety protocols on 8 June, but gave the industry a month’s grace period to get used to them.

That ended on 8 July, when inspectors began enforcing the rules with civil penalties of $5,000 for each offence and $10,000 for repeats.

Apart from the stop-work orders, 47 other citations were issued in the first week of enforcement.

Andrew Rudansky, press secretary for DOB, told Construction Dive that, with 40,000 construction projects underway in the city, most contractors were complying with the rules.

"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.

He added: "We have been relying on our 311 system to get inspectors to the scene of places that might not be compliant.

"Whether it’s a worker who’s concerned about safety on the jobsite, or a neighbor who might think a jobsite isn’t following COVID-19 protocols and is worried about the potential spread in their neighbourhood, we certainly are getting those 311 complaints in, and we’re responding to them."

During the month-long grace period, DOB inspectors challenged unsafe behaviour without issuing fines or stop-work orders.

Rudansky told Construction Dive that during the month, inspectors found instances of too many workers riding hoists together, large gatherings for lunch and meetings, inadequate record-keeping for contact tracing, constrained entrances and spaces that forced workers together, and poor tracking of cleaning.

Image: ©GCR, illustration by Denis Carrier

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