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New health and safety rules as New York construction reopens

This summer, New York City entered Phase One of the state’s Reopening Plan after construction shutdowns due to COVID-19. This means that construction work is resuming on sites that have appropriate permits and that follow the Interim Guidance for Construction Activities During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency published by New York State.

Important guidelines for protecting workers

The state’s Department of Buildings has issued safety guidelines for active construction sites, which are meant to protect workers against the spread of COVID-19. Some of the requirements include:

  • Ensure workers remain at least six feet apart whenever possible.
  • Require face masks for any personnel working within six feet of another employee.
  • Tight spaces like elevators may only be occupied by one person at a time, or less than half of the space’s maximum capacity if wearing face coverings.
  • Maintain readily accessible hand hygiene stations on site.
  • Maintain a cleaning and disinfection record that must be updated at least daily.
  • Appoint a site safety supervisor to ensure these and other requirements are met.

Will contractors and supervisors prioritize health and safety?

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic rocked New York, the city has faced criticism over its rate of serious construction accidents and injuries. Although we would hope that those in charge of job sites would take every step necessary to protect workers from both accidents and infection because it is the right thing to do, far too many owners and operators prioritize their short-term profits over the health and safety of workers.

Workers who have been seriously injured because of unsafe job conditions may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits and/or personal injury damages. If you or someone you love has been affected by an on-the-job injury, it is important to speak with an experienced attorney as soon as possible to protect your interests.

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