Dear Mayor de Blasio,
On behalf of the Construction Safety Advisory Committee of New York, a group of licensed, experienced site safety professionals with decades of experience who promote legislation and regulations to improve construction safety on and around job sites, we want to thank you for all you and your administration are doing to combat COVID19 and promote health and safety.
As an organization of site safety professionals, we understand the importance of maintaining safety protocols and keeping job sites secure. At the same time, we urge you and the Department of Buildings to allow construction in New York City to continue even if under the criteria for reduced staffing. Irrespective of the best plans for make safe work, if construction sites do not have an active professional presence of Project Supervision, Skilled trades and Safety oversight there remains a clear and present danger to the public. Construction sites are not permanent structures. Debris, stored material and temporary structures (scaffolding, sidewalk sheds, hoist platforms, and netting) are impacted by wind and storms, and there is a higher risk of fire while permanent fire suppression systems are not in place. There are constantly changing conditions that present an imminent threat to public safety, that need professional and constant supervision.
We suggest the following steps can be taken to ensure our job sites are safe and workers are protected from COVID19:
- Require a COVID 19 Site Specific Health and Safety Plan,
- Require prescreening of construction workers including Risk Assessment Questionnaires and Temperature Checks,
- Require pre-task planning, safety meetings, tool box talks, job hazard analyses and other group functions be conducted with under 10 workers at a time,
- Implement staggered shifts for workers,
- Share Department of Health protocols and require all contractors agree to abide by these rules and take measures to keep workers physically apart from each other,
- Provide workers with the option of coming to work and abiding by these rules or declining to enter a job site,
- Establish a protocol for isolation and decontamination should there be any confirmed cases of the COVID19 virus.
CSAC NY’s Professional Membership includes over 500 Practicing Safety Professionals representing construction industry stakeholders throughout the NYC Metropolitan Area.
All of us understand the difficulty with which these decisions are being made. Should you decide that you have to shut down construction projects temporarily in New York City, we ask that you provide contractors with a reasonable amount of time to secure the sites, including safely removing materials, gases and fuel. Each site should also require a Site Safety Manager to be present and confirm sites are properly secured.
These are unprecedented times and we wish you well with all of your efforts to keep New Yorkers safe and find ways to help get us back to normal. Thank you again for your continued efforts to protect New Yorkers.
We are available to you and your team if you would like to discuss this further. Be safe.
James C. Bifulco, CSP
Construction Safety Advisory Committee of New York