Covid-19 Safety on the Jobsite - How to Ensure Compliance to the Evolving Regulations

** Updated April 6 2020

Life as we know has been upended, given the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, across the globe, and specifically in the United States. In these tough times we have seen strong leaders emerge from different quarters of life - frontline workers, healthcare professionals, community leaders ... We saw a 68 bed emergency field hospital go up in Central Park in under 48 hours. We saw the military and coast guard provide help. We saw volunteers risk their lives and help with handling coronavirus patients. The struggles and efforts put in by the community is worthy of applause

While ‘shutdowns’ and ‘shelter in place’ orders are the reality for over 80% of the nation, the Department Of Homeland Security Guidance has clarified construction’s role in supporting essential critical infrastructure. The Chief Executive Officer of the Associated General Contractors of America, Stephen E. Sandherr, issued the following statement in reaction to the release of new guidance, “Federal officials have, wisely, heeded our advice and opted to release new guidance that makes it clear that construction activities are included in its list of essential critical infrastructure workers. This new federal guidance should help eliminate the confusion and ambiguity that has led several state and local officials to needlessly order halts to construction activity that is clearly essential.”

“Specifically, federal officials have opted to identify construction and related activities, including the manufacture and delivery of construction supplies and safety equipment and the permitting & inspection of projects, in 25 different parts of its guidelines, compared to four times in its prior iteration. That is because federal officials understand the essential role construction plays in supporting our critical infrastructure and economic activities. They also understand that construction activity can continue to occur in a way that protects workers and the general public from the spread of coronavirus.”

Around the US, different states have come up with guidelines about essential activities that can be continued during the Covid19 outbreak. While some states, cities and counties have recognized construction as an essential activity that can be continued, some have halted all construction activities. Washington, Michigan and Pennsylvania are some states which have halted construction activities

In these volatile times of changing guidelines, what can we do to keep ourselves and our job sites safe? It is important that individuals avoid going to work if they experience symptoms such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, runny/stuffy nose, body aches, chills, or fatigue.

Covid-19 Safety Guidelines

By now most of us are familiar with the steps and precautions to take for personal safety. SNL came up with a good comedy on this as well. But if you are on a jobsite, what are some measures. As you may have guessed, some tips remain the same. There are a few additional ones, described below.

  • Follow social distancing - Maintain 6 foot distance between people

  • No handshaking

  • Clean your hands often with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60-95% alcohol, or wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If your hands are visible dirty, use soap and water should be preferentially used to clean them

  • Do not share tools

  • Avoid congregating at lunch areas and water coolers and bring your own food and drinking water if possible.

  • During tailgate meetings, meet outdoors in large open areas. Remember not to circulate pens, clipboards or devices such as iPads. Use an app/web-based system if possible for attendance tracking. Meetings can also be held in shifts when possible, keeping the same group of workers together to limit exposures.

  • Limit the exchange/sharing of paper documents and encouraging use of electronic communication whenever possible.

Covid-19 Safety Guidelines for Employers

  • Make sure your employees are not ill by implementing a daily crew assessment guideline as recommended by your state

  • Provide hand washing stations and hand sanitizer dispensers at multiple places at the jobsite

  • Provide shoe sanitization tubs (non bleach solution) for use prior to entering and leaving the jobsite.

  • Avoid stacking trades if possible

  • Provide routine environmental cleaning - door knobs, keyboards, counters, and other surfaces. Clean surfaces of service/fleet vehicles, steering wheel, gear shift, instrument panels, etc.

  • Avoid cleaning techniques, such as using pressurized air or water sprays that may result in the generation of bioaerosols.

  • Do not share PPEs and sanitize reusable PPE per manufacturer’s recommendation prior to each use.

For more information on the guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to COVID-19, refer to the link below:

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