Despite the city being on virtual lockdown, construction jobs are still allowed to continue in New York City thanks to a loophole in the rules.
According to an article from Curbed, there are currently 4,936 construction sites active in the city. This is compared to 800 from last month, when the city was in the midst of its lockdown.
Looser Essential Building Guidelines
Originally, the city only allowed the continued construction of essential buildings, such as hospitals, infrastructure, and housing. In March, about 35,000 construction projects were put on pause to comply with this ordinance.
But since then, the city has expanded the original ordinance to allow the construction of any projects that already had ground broken prior to the coronavirus outbreak and can operate with limited in-person interactions. This would include banks, restaurants, and hotels. Additionally, “sole workers” can complete jobs in rental properties such as apartment buildings, as long as they are the only worker on the job.
These looser guidelines allow construction crews to work together on projects, potentially exposing them to the virus and putting those around them at greater risk. According to Curbed, one New York construction worker said, “To make the hotel essential, they might as well open every job, because that hotel is far from essential,” he said. “That hotel is deemed essential while we are deemed expendable.”
Frustration Over Construction Risks
Some New Yorkers are expressing confusion and frustration over what constitutes an “essential” building. According to the Department of Buildings, any structure with space allotted for medical purposes is allowed to continue construction at this time. This includes a mega Target in Elmhurst that will eventually contain an “ambulatory diagnostic treatment or healthcare facilities” in office space upstairs.
Patricia Chou, from Queens Neighborhoods United, opposes the construction of the shopping center because it unnecessarily puts construction workers at risk. “Our primary concerns are that they are endangering workers at the site and exploiting loopholes to complete this project,” Chou said. The construction project, which is on 82nd Street and Baxter Street, impedes access to Elmhurst Hospital’s emergency entrances as well.
Contact a New York Workers Rights Lawyer
If you are being taken advantage of by your construction company in New York and need legal representation, the workers’ rights attorneys at Hach & Rose, LLP are ready to assist you. We have years of experience handling cases relating to OSHA complaints, work injury claims, and occupational illness. Our lawyers have won millions of dollars in compensation for victims of these accidents and are ready to do the same for you. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you decide to take legal action to claim compensation.
Given the COVID-19 pandemic, we have taken steps to protect our clients and employees. We offer online consultations and are available to answer your messages and calls, so please don’t hesitate to contact us. Call (212) 779-0057 today.