During its first five days of actively enforcing new COVID-19 safety protocols, New York City’s Department of Buildings issued 88 citations, including 41 stop-work orders, at construction sites throughout the city.
DOB used Geographic Information System technology, which integrates compliance data with interactive mapping tools, to efficiently route hundreds of inspectors to each of the city’s 40,000 job sites multiple times since the COVID-19 pandemic began, often responding to citizens who reported potential violations.
Since March 30, New York City residents have used the city’s nonemergency 311 phone system to lodge 6,127 complaints against contractors for potential COVID-19 job-site safety protocol violations.
DOB, construction workers and New Yorkers are working to ensure COVID-19 safety protocols are observed at the city’s construction sites, and compliance has been relatively high.
“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,” said Andrew Rudansky, press secretary for DOB.
Beginning June 8, when work at nonessential job sites was allowed to resume in New York City, DOB implemented a new set of mandatory health and sanitation regulations for worksites, including new rules for face coverings, social distancing, cleaning protocols, educational signage and recordkeeping.
The department allowed a 30-day grace period for job sites to become compliant after reopening. During that time, inspectors found instances of too many workers riding hoists together; small spaces that forced workers to be in close contact while entering or leaving a job site, such as stairways; large gatherings at lunchtime or during tool talk meetings; inadequate logs and recordkeeping regarding worker interactions (to be used for contact tracing); and insufficient tracking of on-site cleaning.
When inspectors saw those infractions in June, they reached out to supervisors with guidance and educational materials. Starting July 8, DOB began enforcing the new rules, with initial civil penalties of $5,000 for each offense and $10,000 for subsequent violations. It issued its initial 88 citations from July 8 through July 13.