As the region's COVID cases continue to decline, contractors anticipate a broader re-opening of job sites. Construction across Pennsylvania got the green light this past Friday, while New Jersey and downstate New York are hopeful that non-essential construction will resume in mid- to late- May. With the restart of work comes the new reality of job site safety. Below we've pulled together considerations and resources to help you and your team get back to work safely. Update: New York has released additional guidelines for reopening during "Phase 1". See details here.
Construction's New Normal
Before your team steps back onto the job site, consider how COVID-19 impacts your company's approach to the following:
- Communication: More than ever, clear, consistent written and verbal communication is critical for the safety of your team and the continued operation of your job sites. From management to general laborers and across subs, suppliers, and vendors - make sure everyone is on the same page.
- Policies & Procedures: If you never quite had formalized policies or procedures, now is the time to do so. Outline how your company will prevent worker exposure to coronavirus from the arrival at a job site to clocking out for the day. This should include social distancing measures and new work practices as well as job site and equipment cleaning and the use of protective personal equipment. This may seem like a lot, but below you'll find a plan template to give you a solid start.
- Documentation: To ensure accountability and limit liability, consider implementing rigorous documentation and reporting. At the least, you'll need to record any cases of workers becoming sick.
The most comprehensive resource addressing these considerations comes from the Construction Industry Safety Coalition (CISC). This coalition is comprised of 27 trade associations and represents small, medium and large businesses across construction's value chain. They released a "COVID-19 Exposure Prevention, Preparedness, and Response Plan for Construction" as a downloadable Word Doc in both English and Spanish. The plan contains:
- Recommendations on preventing worker exposure to coronavirus,
- Protective measures to be taken on the job site,
- Personal protective equipment and work practice controls,
- Cleaning and disinfecting procedures,
- Actions if a worker becomes sick and an "Employee Notification Letter",
- COVID-19 Checklist for Employers and Employees, and
- COVID-19 toolbox training talk
Additionally, OSHA has released COVID-19 guidance for the construction industry and you can remind your workers of COVID-19 best practices with a job site safety poster.