Keeping the Construction Industry Safe During the Pandemic and Beyond

print April , 2020

The construction industry is considered an essential business and has implemented a number of safety measures on job sites to ensure construction workers are protected during this global pandemic. Guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has been adopted for comprehensive protective practices.

According to the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), these are the employer and employee responsibilities outlined by the CDC and OSHA to keep construction workers safe. They are part of a larger imperative to develop a COVID-19 Exposure Action Plan. (Sample by AGC here). The AGC sample plan includes responsibilities of managers, supervisors and employees; job site protective cleaning and disinfecting measures; jobsite exposure situations, OSHA recordkeeping and confidentiality. It also provides a COVID-19 checklist. Examples of items included are:

Employers:

  • Conduct safety meetings (toolbox talks) by phone or using social distancing standards as outlined in the plan.
  • Limit access to the job site and work trailer to only those necessary for the work.
  • Pre-screen all visitors to ensure they are not exhibiting symptoms.
  • Ask employees and visitors to leave the job site and return home if they are showing symptoms.
  • Provide hand sanitizer and maintain Safety Data Sheets of all disinfectants used on site.
  • Provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to any employees assigned cleaning/disinfecting tasks.

Employees:

  • Practice good hygiene
  • Practice social distancing, including but not limited to maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet between themselves and another worker at all times
  • Avoid sharing tools with co-workers.

Implementation of safety measures

The AGC has seen an increase in the implementation of safety measures on job sites between March 30 and up to the last follow-up survey on April 9, 2020.

Although there was an increase in most categories, the most significant jump was an 8% increase in implementation of access screening and a 20% increase in the use of personal protective equipment.

What to do

As with any essential workers – or those who return to work as the economy opens up – construction workers and their employers must pay close attention to symptoms of illness and take immediate action to protect the employee and others.  The Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) recommends that:

Construction workers who develop a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness should call their supervisor and health-care provider immediately and not go to work. They should do the same thing if they come into close contact with someone showing these symptoms. Contractors should pre-screen everyone, including taking their temperatures, to make sure nobody with symptoms enters a job site. They should also urge workers who do not feel well to stay home.

For more information on this topic, visit the AGC COVID-19 page here and the ABC Coronavirus page here.

 

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