Friends –

These are extraordinary times for all of us. It seems as if the news and information is, quite literally, changing by the minute. We understand that it can be difficult for you to keep up-to-date. As a result, the Empire Chapter will serve as an aggregator of information for you and will provide that information on an every other day basis for the foreseeable future. We hope you’ll find it helpful to you, your company and your employees.

We at the Chapter are doing our part to decrease the impact of COVID-19. Effective yesterday, the Chapter staff have been ordered to work from home for this week and we will re-evaluate to see if that needs to be extended. We’ve also implemented the following:

  • All craft education classes have been postponed this week and will resume on-line next week. We’re working through the logistics now and expect to be ready to go next week.
  • All scheduled custom training programs are proceeding ONLY if the member company and trainer are both comfortable with the classes resuming as planned.
  • All events are canceled through the end of April. All in-person meetings are being moved to the Zoom platform.
  • Travel by Empire Chapter is halted until the end of the month. Staff will not be coming to your office for any visits. All contact with the membership will be done over email, phone or text.

All of this is done out of an abundance of caution. We’ve heard from many leaders over in Europe that if they could do one thing differently, all agreed that social distancing would have dramatically decreased the spread of the virus. Let’s all do our part to help facilitate social distancing as much as possible without a significant disruption to your business.

Brian Sampson
President, Empire State Chapter
Empire Chapter Resources
OSHA Guidance Related to COVID-19
OSHA is assessing and responding to numerous complaints about employee protection from the spread of COVID-19. In an effort to keep everyone informed, OSHA has launched a  website that provides information on prevention of COVID-19 , specifically for employers and workers. The website is being updated as more information is learned about the virus and spread of same.

While there is no specific OSHA standard to address COVID-19, there are general standards (Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Bloodborne Pathogens) that are relevant to protecting workers from the spread of COVID-19. This is a good time to review your policies and to make sure you are operating in compliance with your policies to minimize the spread of the virus.

In addition, under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace, free of recognized hazards. As such, employers must stay informed of the risks associated with COVID-19 and address any known hazards. It is advisable to develop a COVID-19 plan to address hazards and implement precautions at the worksite. This may include but is not limited to restrictions on travel, allowing for increased worker absenteeism, options for working remotely, staggered shifts, etc. There is no specific requirement for any of these measures, and each employer must assess its workplace and workforce and implement a plan that protects its workers.

One final but important note: While colds and flu are generally exempt from recordability, COVID-19 is a recordable illness when a worker is infected on the job.
Recording workplace exposures to Coronavirus
COVID-19 is a recordable illness
OSHA recordkeeping requirements at  29 CFR Part 1904   mandate covered employers record certain work-related injuries and illnesses on their OSHA 300 log.

While  29 CFR 1904.5(b)(2)(viii)  exempts recording of the common cold and flu,  COVID-19 is a recordable illness  when a worker is infected on the job.

Visit OSHA’s  Injury and Illness Record Keeping and Reporting Requirements page   for more information.
There are twenty-eight  OSHA-approved State Plans , operating state-wide occupational safety and health programs. State Plans are required to have standards and enforcement programs that are at least as effective as OSHA's and may have different or more stringent requirements. To view New York's OSHA-approved Plan, click here .
COVID-19 Information from the
Centers for Disease Control
There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipes.
5 Steps to Prepare for COVID-19

Infectious disease experts say most cases of COVID-19 are mild to moderate, like the common cold. But it can be more severe in older adults and people with chronic health conditions.

There are simple steps you can take to help protect yourself and your family.

#1 Make a plan

Create plans for school, work and home.
  • Make a list of people and organizations who can help if you become sick. Consider: family, friends, neighbors, carpool drivers, health care providers, teachers, employers, the local public health department, health care services, and other resources like mental health services.
  • Join a neighborhood website or social media page to stay connected to neighbors, information, and resources.
  • Plan ways to care for family members at risk for serious complications, such as older people and people with chronic health conditions.

#2 Prepare as you would for a winter storm

There is no need to buy large quantities of supplies. But it's a good idea to pick up a few extra items each time you go to the market or pharmacy. That way, you're prepared and can avoid crowds.

  • Pick up some extra foods like canned goods, dry pasta, and peanut butter.
  • Have soap, hand sanitizer, tissues, fever reducers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen on hand.

# 3 Get ready for possible changes in daily schedules

At work:
  • Ask to work from home or take leave if you or someone in your household gets sick, or if your child's school is temporarily closed.

#4 Stay informed:

  • Stay connected on your state and local health department's social media pages and websites for timely and accurate COVID-19 information.
  • Be aware of false information circulating on the internet. Accurate and up-to-date information is available from the State Health Department at www.health.ny.gov/coronavirus or its hotline at 1-888-364-3065, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website and social media platforms at www.cdc.gov/COVID19
  • If you live alone and become sick, you may need to ask for help. If you have a chronic disease and live alone, ask your friends, family, and health care providers to check on you.
  • If you decide to attend a public event, practice good health habits.
  • Try to keep at least 6 feet of distance between you and others at the event.
  • Avoid close contact, such as shaking hands, hugging, and kissing.
  • Wash hands often or use a hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid surfaces that are touched often, such as doorknobs and handrails.

#5 Prevent the spread of colds, flu and COVID-19

Everyone should:
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially before you eat.
  • Cover your cough and sneezes with a tissue and discard in a closed container.
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Keep a distance of at least 6 feet to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

For people who are sick:
  • Stay home.
  • If you have a fever, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone without the use of fever-reducing medicines, such as acetaminophen.
  • Keep sick household members away from others. If you have a separate room that is best.
  • Use soap and water, a bleach and-water solution, or EPA-approved household products. You can make your own cleanser with a mixture of 1 cup of liquid unscented chlorine bleach in 5 gallons of water.
  • Avoid sharing personal items.
  • Anyone at high risk for complications should talk to their health care provider for more information.
On Monday evening, the New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) issued a Service Notice which describes the processes in place to significantly reduce in-person interactions between the public and Department personnel in response to the COVID-19 Virus. 

As part of the citywide response to the Coronavirus, Department of Buildings (DOB) customers are being encouraged to immediately limit the amount of walk-in traffic to DOB offices. Effective Wednesday, March 18, customers are strongly encouraged to make use the following methods:

  • Continue to use eFiling for Hub Development, Full, Self-Service jobs and AHV permits
  • Continue to use DOB NOW: Build for all applicable work types.
  • The Administrative Enforcement Unit, Licensing and Enforcement units are currently maintaining their normal functionality. Additional Service Notices will be posted this week with updates on these transactions.

Transactions conducted at a DOB borough office that are not listed, will continue to take place in-person, including Records Room requests and other functions that require a service ticket.

  • Transactions with Payments
  • New Job Filings
  • Subsequent Job Filings
  • Temporary Certificates of Occupancy
  • Letters of No Objection
  • Permits
  • Permit Renewals
  • Temporary Use Permits
  • After Hours Variances

For the above transactions that cannot be processed in eFiling or DOB NOW, mail the application to the appropriate borough office and include on the envelope Attn: Application Processing. The application can also be hand-delivered to the borough office and put in the designated drop-off box. Attach to the application a check or money order for the amount owed payable to the NYC Department of Buildings.

Construction Employer Responsibilities and OSHA Compliance During the Coronavirus Emergency
Date:  Wednesday, March 18th
Time:  3 p.m. EDT
Length:  60 minutes
Speakers:  Maury Baskin, Littler Mendelson P.C.; Brad Hammock, Littler Mendelson P.C.
The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, and we are already hearing about construction employees testing positive on jobsites.

Join ABC general counsel Maury Baskin and ABC OSHA counsel Brad Hammock for a webinar providing guidance to ABC members and chapter staff on employer and employee responsibilities as well as OSHA reporting and recording.
The Economy in the Time of Coronavirus: The Near- and Longer-term Outlooks for the Economy and the Markets
Date:  Thursday, March 19th
Time:  3 p.m. EDT
Length:  60 minutes
Speaker:  Anirban Basu, ABC Chief Economist

Get the latest data on the spread of COVID-19, market responses and economic consequences from ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu.
Contract Issues and the Coronavirus
Date:  Friday, March 20th
Time:  3 p.m. EDT
Length:  60 minutes
Speaker:  David Pugh, Bradley

The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, and we are already hearing of employees testing positive on projects across America. Do you know what the impact of COVID-19 is on your contract? Join David Pugh, partner at Bradley, for a webinar providing guidance to ABC members and chapter staff on the impact of coronavirus on contracts.

Last week, ABC general counsel, Littler Mendelson, presented a comprehensive webinar covering all aspects of the impact of the coronavirus on employers and employees. The presentation covered the most commonly asked questions by employers, when facing the challenges associated with running a business during the current health crisis.