Construction Return in Boston to Be Incremental Through May

The Walsh Administration is sending out a set of timelines this week as preliminary guidance to construction companies as to how essential construction projects will return throughout the month of May.

Since April 27, all construction sites allowed to work have had to submit a COVID-19 work plan, which is the same method being used for state construction projects as well. City officials in the letter said they are evaluating how that has gone and are looking to broaden who can work.

“This effectiveness of, and compliance with the policy will continue to be evaluated as the City looks to broaden its categories of allowed construction work to further align with the Commonwealth,” read the letter. “Now that the COVID-19 Safety Policy for Construction has been implemented, and current construction is in compliance with the new mandates, the City will incrementally expand its categories of allowed construction to further align with the broader categories of construction defined as essential by the State.”

The timeline actually began on Tuesday, May 5. At that time, all essential projects with filed COVID plans were able to begin preparing their sites for the proper safety measures.

However, on May 18, they are considering allowing construction on essential sites to begin again if they are permitted, have a COVID plan and are prepared to implement that plan safely. The return to work on May 18 will be for construction on hospitals, public schools, residential buildings [1-3 units], road and utility work, or other outdoor/open air-work such as steel erection, roofing and constructing foundations.

Then on May 26, the City will allow the construction activities to commence using safety plans.

“This incremental approach will provide the time necessary to allow complex, large-scale development an opportunity to educate their workforce, safely remobilize and implement their site-specific Safety Plan,” read the letter.

The enforcement of the return to construction will be done by the Department of Public Works and the Inspectional Services Department. They will monitor safety plan. Any contractor that doesn’t comply could have a suspension of work, or could get a permit revoked.

The letter stressed that worker safety will be first, and that Mayor Martin Walsh has partnered with a Boston hospital to do testing of construction workers.

“As essential construction activities commence, the City will continue to focus on the health and well-being of Boston residents, worker protections and the safety of Boston construction sites,” read the letter. “To further ensure safety of essential work, Mayor Martin J. Walsh has partnered with the Tufts Medical Center to provide testing services for the industry at the Tufts COVID-19 Screening Clinic at the Josiah Quincy Elementary School located…in Chinatown.”

At a press conference on Wednesday, Mayor Walsh reiterated that as of May 6, “all active work is still currently limited to essential projects only,” and all projects are required to submit safety plans to the city. He did not go into any detail about the plan, saying only that “we will have more to share on this in the coming weeks.”

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