Construction Excluded From Workforce Reduction Mandate After Empire Chapter Advocacy Efforts
After numerous conversations with both the Governor's office and the New York State Department of Labor, the Empire Chapter is happy to announce that "construction" has been excluded from Governor Cuomo's executive order directing non-essential businesses to implement work-from-home policies effective Friday, March 20th. Businesses that rely on in-office personnel must decrease their in-office workforce by 50 percent. 

The executive order exempts essential service industries, including construction , shipping, media, warehousing, grocery and food production, pharmacies, healthcare providers, utilities, banks and related financial institutions, and other industries critical to the supply chain. 

While construction has been excluded from the workforce reduction mandate at this time, it's important to note that this is a rapidly evolving situation. We implore you to continue to implement best practices at your sites and in your offices. Any spike in positive cases in the construction industry could lead to construction being included in the mandate. 
Empire Chapter Safety Update

Safety is paramount in all phases of construction. This has been a given for many years now. We all acknowledge the basics of PPE, fall protection, ladders, etc. We also agree on the new reality of the significant shortage of skilled workers we all face. This circumstance has caused companies to engage in many business practices to train and retain their workforce. Injuries are unacceptable from not only a financial standpoint, but from a lack of workers standpoint, as well as caring about your people and their family’s well-being. Nothing illustrates this point greater than the Corona Virus and the implications it can have on our workers, their families, and our jobsites. 

Many companies have sent out emails, letters, and memos addressing the ideas of thorough personal hygiene and Sickness Awareness. These items are the foundation of protecting ourselves. However, there is always more we can do. Many ABC companies have gone to even greater extents to create not just a new culture of health consciousness, but they have enacted new protocols and jobsite policies addressing the concepts of improved industrial hygiene, social distancing and awareness. 

ABC commends our members for their forward thinking on the subject of improved Construction Site Health and Safety Techniques. We at the Empire State Chapter wish all of our members and beyond to stay safe and healthy. Together we can change the face of standard safety, raising it to an all new high that we can all be proud of as we protect our workforce. The following information illustrates many of the concepts being put in place as we speak. 

Jason R. Ashlaw
Associated Builders and Contractors
Empire State
Statewide Director of Safety, Craft Training, and Workforce Development
The Empire Chapter staff has reached out to members across the state to bring you the following list of best practices:

In the Office:
  • Allowing staff to work from home
  • Utilizing phone or web conferencing instead of in-person meetings
  • Placing hand sanitizer around the offices and break rooms
  • Placing COVID-19 information in paycheck envelopes
  • Employees are taking pictures of the time cards instead of handing them in

Field Staff/On the Jobsite:
  • Conducting temperature scans before entering the jobsite
  • Limiting the number of employees riding elevators
  • Closing jobsites from 24 hrs. to 5 days, if a worker is symptomatic
  • Providing portable hand washing stations, if hand sanitizer is not available on the jobsite
  • Maintaining 6 feet of space between workers.
  • Mandating the use of N95 masks and gloves for employees working side-by-side
  • Moving all jobsite meetings from the trailer to open air meetings on the site
  • Splitting shifts with modified business hours- putting 30 minutes between start and end of shifts so time clock and common areas can be sanitized
  • Disinfecting tools and equipment multiple times throughout the day
  • Conducting COVID-19 tool box talks (provided below) and daily personal health and safety reminders

  • Establishing a designated drop off area for deliveries
  • Providing a waiver to delivery drivers, so signatures are not necessary
Empire Chapter Member Establishes
"Northern Tier Contracting Army"
Northern Tier Contracting, a general contractor in Gouverneur, has formed the "Northern Tier Contracting Army". The initiative allows employees to volunteer and assist the local community with meal distribution, support for the elderly, pharmacy and grocery runs for those who are unable to leave their homes, along with other support requests from the community.

This is just another example of how Empire Chapter members continue to improve and build stronger communities across New York.
Coronavirus Guidance for Contractors 
Contracts, Compliance and Costs
The potential impacts of the Coronavirus to the construction industry are wide reaching. Consequences on a project site can include quarantines or other governmental actions resulting in impacts to the project work force. Offsite impacts can cover a much broader scope of issues including labor shortages at factories of manufacturers or fabrication facilities, resulting in production delays, transportation embargoes causing project supply issues, or governmental actions which inhibit manufacturing and production causing supply chain shortages and inabilities to service existing demands. 

Long known for leadership and innovation in construction law, Peckar & Abramson has issued guidance for Empire Chapter members trying to navigate contracts in the wake of the Coronavirus. Click here to view the document.
Lawmakers Pass Emergency Coronavirus
Paid Sick Leave Bill
New York now requires all private and public sector employees be eligible for sick leave and wage replacement while they are quarantined, regardless of whether it's mandatory or precautionary.

The degree of paid leave depends on the size of the employer:

  • Small sized employers, which includes employers with 10 or fewer employees and that have a net income of less than $1 million, would receive unpaid sick leave and immediately become eligible for Paid Family Leave and Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) benefits.

  • Medium sized employers, which includes employers with 10 or fewer employees that have a net income of greater than $1 million and employers with between 11 and 99 employees, would receive at least five days of paid sick leave, followed by eligibility for Paid Family Leave and TDI benefits.

  • Employers with 100 or more employees, as well as all public employees, would receive a minimum of 14 days of paid sick leave.

Please contact the Empire Chapter with any questions you may have about the new sick leave and wage replacement.
Deployment of 1,000-Bed Hospital Ship
'USNS Comfort' to New York Harbor
Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Cuomo announced the USNS Comfort will be deployed to New York harbor and is expected to arrive in April. The 1,000-bed hospital ship has 12 fully-equipped operating rooms and will significantly increase New York's hospital surge capacity. The Governor is continuing to work with leadership of the Army Corp of Engineers to develop ways to increase hospital capacity in New York.
Vice President Pence Asks Construction Companies to Donate Masks
At a press conference March 17, Vice President Mike Pence asked all construction companies in the United States to donate their N95 masks to local hospitals and medical clinics to help protect medical teams and patients and slow transmission of the Coronavirus.

He also asked that construction companies forgo ordering more N95 masks during the outbreak, while there is a shortage of masks for health care workers..

If you are not sure if the masks you have in inventory are N95- a N95 mask will have two straps and a seal or foam gasket around the perimeter to prevent air leaks around the side.

More information about dust mask ratings can be found here .

Date: Thursday, March 19, 2020
Time: 3 p.m. EDT
Length: 60 minutes
Speakers:  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.

Date: Friday, March 20, 2020
Time: 3 p.m. EDT
Length: 60 minutes
Speakers:  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 contracts? Join David Pugh, partner at Bradley, for a webinar providing guidance to ABC members and chapter staff on the impact of coronavirus on contracts.