Below are questions and answers to help clarify safety precautions and other guidance for construction activity as the Philadelphia economy continues to reopen. Refer to the City of Philadelphia’s Reopening with Care information for other critical guidance.
L&I keeps these FAQs updated so please check back often.
1. What type of work is authorized?
Starting June 11, 2020, all types of work are authorized if the proper permits are in place, contractors are licensed, and there is compliance with the Code and COVID-19 safety precautions.
2. What are the general safety precautions required on all job sites?
Each active job site must be assigned a Pandemic Safety Officer and a written COVID-19 Safety Plan must be kept onsite. The Safety Officer must complete an approved COVID-19 safety training course (see FAQ #3). For additional critical guidance, refer to the City’s Reopening with Care safety information. The City’s safety checklist describes additional requirements including masking, distancing, handwashing, and cleaning.
Refer to FAQ #5 for additional precautions that must be taken when working within an occupied dwelling unit.
3. A Pandemic Safety Officer must obtain a COVID-19 workplace safety training certificate. Where can I take a COVID-19 workplace safety course?
- United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners (UBC) COVID-19 Awareness Training (must be UBC member)
- General Building Contractors Association (GBCA) COVID-19 Awareness Training and Certification (UBC program made available to other trades by GBCA)
- Med-Tex Services Inc. Pandemic Awareness Training
- Finishing Trades Institute COVID-19 Awareness
- Preparing Workers for COVID-19
- 360 Training COVID-19 Awareness
4. I am painting the interior of my home and having the floors refinished. This work does not require a building permit. Do the contractors need a person trained and certified in COVID-19 awareness?
Yes, the contractors will need to have someone pass an approved COVID-19 training course and social distancing and hygiene protocols must be adhered to. COVID-19 safety precautions apply to renovations and repairs that do not require a permit.
5. What additional safety precautions are required when working within an occupied dwelling unit?
In addition to the measures outlined in FAQ #2 the following precautions must be observed when working within an occupied dwelling unit (see FAQ #6):
- All persons other than the dwelling unit occupants shall wear masks at all times when inside of the building.
- Occupants should wear masks if they are not separated from the work crew by a floor level or by a closed door.
- Upon completion of the work for the day, the contractor shall disinfect any light switches, door surfaces, door handles, and handrails that have been touched.
6. What defines a dwelling unit as occupied or unoccupied?
A dwelling unit is considered to be unoccupied if it:
- is abandoned,
- has a vacant property license, or
- has not been inhabited for a minimum of 4 consecutive days.
Managing permits and inspections
7. How do I pay for and pick up permits and plans that were submitted prior to the launch of eCLIPSE?
After you have paid for your permit, you can make an appointment to pick up your plans at MSB.
For additional information, refer to L&I’s blog post about permit applications that were filed on paper.
8. How do I get a Make Safe Permit for an imminently dangerous or unsafe property?
Make Safe Permits must be obtained in person at L&I’s Permit and License Center on the Concourse level of the Municipal Services Building, behind City Hall. You must make an appointment and comply with certain requirements to visit the Permit and License Center.
Before the appointment, review the requirements for Make Safe Permits.
9. Can I conduct business with L&I in-person?
Currently, L&I is offering limited services at the Permit and License Center in the Concourse of the Municipal Services Building. You must make an appointment and comply with certain requirements to visit the Permit and License Center.
- Please note, if you are filing an application which requires the prerequisite approval of a different department or agency, that approval must be obtained prior to submitting your application with L&I. Please contact that department or agency directly for information regarding the services that they are currently providing.
- Remember that appeals can be filed at any time of day through eCLIPSE.
- See the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) page for information on zoning appeals, which are not filed by L&I.
10. How do I schedule an inspection?
All inspections should be scheduled through L&I’s automated (IVR) phone system. The number is (215) 255-4040.
You must call at least 24-hours in advance.
11. How do I prepare my construction site for an inspection?
The L&I inspector will call at least 15 minutes before arrival so that workers have time to finish preparing the site. The following arrangements must be made conditions must be in place:
- All workers who are not needed to help carry out the inspection must clear the area being inspected.
- Masks and gloves must be worn by anyone accompanying the inspector during the site visit.
- Approved plans must be on site and arranged such that the portions showing the specific areas being inspected are visible.
- The L&I inspector must have ready access to all areas subject to inspection.
- No paper certifications or reports can be submitted, digital copies shall be emailed
Do not hand paper certifications or reports to the inspector during the site visit. Digital copies must be submitted via email.
At the inspector’s discretion, you may need to take video, provide photo documentation, or otherwise participate in alternative or supplementary methods of inspection.
12. I have a construction permit that was set to expire on or after March 16, 2020. I was not able to work during the construction shutdown. When will my permit expire?
Under new regulations, active construction permits that had been set to expire on or after March 16, 2020 have been extended by six months.
- These permits are exceptions and have not been extended:
- Make safe permits
- Operations (Fire Code) permits
- Rough-in approvals.
13. I have a zoning permit that was set to expire on or after March 16, 2020. I was not able to act on it during the construction shutdown. When will my permit expire?
Approved by-right: Under new regulations, all zoning permits, including conditional permits, that were approved by-right and set to expire on or after March 16th are extended by six months.
Approved by Variance or Special Exception: Under new regulations, all zoning permits that were approved by variance or special exception approval and set to expire on or after March 16th are extended by 180 days.
“Zoning permits” includes use registration permits.
14. I have a permit application under review. If I did not submit the requested information or pick up my permit during the shutdown, was the application abandoned (closed out)?
Under new regulations, applicants have been granted a 180-day extension (from original expiration date) to submit requested information or pick up permits. This is a one-time extension to respond to L&I.
15. How do I report construction sites that are not following social distancing and hygiene guidelines?
Call 311 or (215) 686-8686 if you are outside Philadelphia.
16. What happens if a contractor is found violating social distancing and hygiene guidelines?
Failure to comply with all COVID-19 related requirements issued by the Commonwealth or City could result in penalties being imposed, including but not limited to, notices of violation, fines of up to $2,000 per violation per day, stop-work orders, and suspension or revocation of the contractor’s license.