In an effort to prepare to restart construction on suspended projects after imposing pandemic-related restrictions on construction deemed nonessential, the City of Boston recently issued its revised “Temporary Guidance for Construction in the City of Boston,” which took effect on April 27, 2020.

Last week, the City indicated that this new policy is effective for active permitted projects, and for all future permit applications moving forward, including Alterations, Amendments, Erect Building, Use of Premises, Short Form, Electrical (Temp Service, Low Voltage, Fire Alarm, and general), Plumbing, Gas, Sprinkler, Sheet Metal and Trench permits.

The City of Boston’s policy is comprised of a Best Practices Worksheet and a Safety Plan Compliance Affidavit. The City has indicated the policy will apply to all sites as construction restarts, so these documents are certainly worth getting familiar with for those who do work in Boston.

The Best Practices Worksheet references and incorporates rapidly changing guidance from other agencies, including the CDC, OSHA, and the State of Massachusetts, and requires the creation of a site-specific safety plan that addresses the requirements of these other guidelines. A compliant safety plan must be approved and in place before any work can begin on a covered site.

There are six categories in the Worksheet, and if your answer to any of the checklist items is “no,” you are required to explain why you checked “no” and how you will address that area. These categories include “Safety Steps Before Shifts Start,” “Job Site Hygiene,” “Social Distancing at the Job Site,” “Personal Protective Equipment,” Communications and Job Site Training,” and “COVID-19 Project Specific Planning.”

The other component of the City’s guidelines, the “Compliance Affidavit,” requires the permittee to certify a number of statements under penalties of perjury. Most notably, the Affidavit requires permittees to certify that:

  1. Permittees shall conduct their operations in “strict compliance” with all applicable regulations, guidelines and requirements imposed by the CDC, OSHA, and the State, as well as “industry best practices” involving COVID-19 construction safety;
  2. Permittees are responsible for staying up to date on the CDC, OSHA and State guidance, and “industry best practices,” although that term is not specifically defined;
  3. Site-specific safety plans achieve all of the Best Practices listed in the worksheet, or explain why one is not applicable; and
  4. That each subcontractor, sub-subcontractor, and other parties that will perform work on the Project worksite will also comply and will satisfy these requirements.

As a penalty for noncompliance, the Affidavit indicates that failure to conform with any of these requirements may result in suspension or termination of the work, or revocation of a permit, although the City may allow violations to be cured by the permittee.

These requirements underscore the ever-present need to stay up to date on all applicable laws and regulations affecting your new and existing projects, and to maintain open lines of productive communication at all project levels.