NYC DOB COVID-19 Updates: Construction Resumes

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This post was edited on July 8th to note the DOB’s new policy of issuing violations for failure to adhere to NYS/DOB site safety guidelines. See below for more details.

We’ve updated our original COVID-19 blog post (click here to see it) with the latest changes and news since local law adjustments were first announced in March. As agencies start to resume programs and policies in June, we’ll publish updates as separate posts and link them back to the original blog.

As of Monday, June 8th, Phase One of NYC’s “reopening” has begun. With it comes a safe restart of construction in New York City. Here’s what you need to know:

Construction Safety Guidelines

The DOB released new COVID-19 safety guidelines for the over 30,000 non-essential sites that can begin resuming work on 6/8. These were developed in conjunction with the DOHMH, and focused on preventing the spread of COVID-19. These guidelines apply to all construction activity during the emergency, until the State rescinds or amends its Executive Order and any related guidance.

Here are some additional points from the DOB’s release:

  • UPDATE: All workers on a work site are now required to have face coverings appropriate to their task, in line with State guidance. The city has adjusted this from their previous guidelines
  • The DOB will not lift Stop Work Orders issued at sites that illegally continued work “even after they were issued a Stop Work Order for violating the ban, and have outstanding civil penalties”

You can read all the DOB’s construction guidelines here

DOB Inspection “Sweeps”

The DOB will perform safety inspection sweeps of every permitted construction site in New York City, and following up with additional periodic checks. Here’s what inspectors will be looking for during inspections (UPDATE: you can also view this in their new handout, linked here):

  • Compliance with social distancing protocols. Six feet of distance should be observed between all personnel, unless safety or work functions require shorter distance.
  • Anyone on site, including workers, other construction professionals, and approved visitors, who are less than six feet apart must wear face coverings. Maintaining this practice at all times is highly encouraged.
  • Readily available hygiene and hand washing stations.
  • COVID-19 safety measures signage visible to workers, reminding everyone to adhere to all safety protocols while on site, including proper hand hygiene, physical distancing rules, appropriate use of personal protective equipment, and cleaning and disinfecting protocols.
  • Tightly confined spaces (e.g., elevators, hoists) occupied by only one individual at a time, unless all occupants are wearing a face covering and the space is kept under 50% maximum capacity.
  • For elevators and hoists, 50% capacity signage must be posted within the cab and at each landing.
  • A site safety monitor must be designated. The role’s responsibilities include continuous compliance with all aspects of the site safety plan.
  • Safety plan(s) are conspicuously posted on site and include a copy of the submitted State affirmation.
  • Properly completed and updated cleaning and disinfection logs.
  • A communication plan for employees, visitors, and clients is on site.
  • Correctly completed and updated logs of every person who may have had close contact with others on site to ensure effective contact tracing.

UPDATE: Enforcement & Penalties

As of July 8, 2020, the DOB enforcement teams will begin issuing violations for those who have not adhered to NYS and DOB social distancing and hygiene guidelines for reopening. 

While the DOB initially had a 30-day period without issuing violations, previously released messaging states violations will carry fines, with continued noncompliance resulting in Stop Work Orders/additional summonses carrying civil penalties of up to $5,000 per offense.

Per the DOB, “Construction sites that do not follow COVID-19 safety guidance by failing to have a Safety Plan and/or affirmation posted conspicuously and available for inspection or failing to have at least one hand washing or hand sanitizing facility will be issued a Stop Work Order (SWO).” A new portal in DOB NOW: Safety has opened for requesting rescission of COVID-19 related SWOs. Click here to see the DOB’s latest Service Notice with step-by-step details on submitting rescission requests.

Mandatory Site-Specific Health Plan

Employers are required to develop a site-specific health plan and display it prominently at the work site. They must also submit and display an affirmation to New York State confirming that they’ve “read and understood” the additional reopening requirements laid out here in the New York State Interim Guidelines.

You can complete this requirement by clicking the above link, reading it in full, and visiting the link at the bottom of the document to submit your affirmation. Be sure to post the same at your site.

New Filings

Per previous DOB updates, eFiling capabilities have been greatly expanded to allow for several new types of online filings. Visit the DOB’s page to learn more about new virtual services and requirements. Of course, confirm any new filings or processes with your contractors and code consultants, and ensure you’re aware of what’s being filed and when.

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About the Author

Kristen Hariton

Kristen Hariton is the Vice President, Product Engagement at SiteCompli, focused on exploring new solutions and innovations in property operations tech. When she's not sharing the latest industry trends, changes, and updates, she's planning her next adventure to Walt Disney World.