In April, about 85% of the total building sites in NYC were forced to shut down in order to prevent the pandemic spread. Of course, the measures were necessary but also devastating in financial terms. People temporarily lost their occupations while projects went off their time schedules.
After a short pause, around 5200 construction sites were operative again as of April 28, 2020. Still, many constructions that are considered nonessential remain closed.
However, the working habits remind almost nothing of the pre-pandemic period. The new routines currently applied in New York projects show how the construction industry will alter as a result of COVID-19.
Stuff interaction is now limited in order to prevent the spread of the virus. Social distancing is maintained. Workers are obliged to wear masks (even during breaks) and do not come close to each other. When trucks arrive to deliver freight, drivers remain in their seats and do not interact with other people. Moreover, workers and employees are examined with a forehead thermometer before their shifts initiate. The contractors have installed multiple hand-washing equipment while every tool and device are frequently disinfected.
Suffolk Construction Company is planning on using remote sensing technology to act against the pandemic spread. Workers will be scanned by thermal scanners and they will wear specific sensors in their protective helmets that would be activated when they come too close to each other.
In contrast to previous periods when laborers would work even if they felt sick, now they are encouraged to stay at home, a fact that signifies a massive cultural change.
New York City officials constantly inspect the construction projects in order to assure that the regulations are implemented and deliver fines in case they are not.
The quick and successful application of the new measures in the construction industry is rather impressive. “I would have to say that the industry has evolved very rapidly to adapt to our current environment regarding the coronavirus,” Gary LaBarbera, president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, stated.
The initiative for the new policy was taken by laborers who demanded radical changes in their working environment during the coronavirus crisis.
Nevertheless, it is possible that the most crucial changes have not been applied yet. Contractors and worker groups are applying pressure to the city officials to allow 24-hour shifts in order to reduce the working load and the number of workers on a construction site at any given time. Authorities are worried that such an endeavor would negatively impact everyday life in the city and create disruptions. Therefore, according to a spokesman for Bill de Blasio, the Major of New York City, this scenario is not currently examined.