covid-19 construction protocols

Construction: Best Practices and Protocols Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

Ever since the World Health Organization declared that the COVID-19 outbreak is a global pandemic, many industries have felt the impact of the newest strain of the coronavirus. While some industries are forced to follow strict protocols to keep practicing amid COVID-19, state governors have instituted stay-at-home orders, closing down many businesses, particularly those deemed to be “non-essential,” such as those in the recreation and entertainment sector.

The COVID-19 pandemic is also affecting the construction industry, with most states halting projects. For many construction business owners, the COVID-19 pandemic is raising the specter of the global financial crisis of 2008, which hit the construction industry badly. While they may be better prepared this time around with the wealth of tips to face the financial crisis serving as a guide, the COVID-19 crisis remains to be uncharted territory for just about everyone.

Nevertheless, the construction industry still caught a break with all states deciding to allow construction projects to continue as long as they’re essential infrastructure or linked to critical COVID-19 relief efforts, among other things.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, however, all construction sites allowed to operate are directed to incorporate protocols that will ensure the health and safety of everyone involved in the project. Here are some of the best practices the construction industry must implement while the coronavirus pandemic is ongoing.

Minimize Workforce Interaction

Social distancing has become the norm in the time of coronavirus, and the construction industry must strictly implement it at work sites. All workers are advised to avoid physical contact with others and must remain at least six feet away from each other.

It’s also advisable to stagger the workforce and have them work varying schedules to ensure there won’t be too many people at the site, leaving more space for social distancing.

Putting up sanitation stations onsite and providing your workforce ample disinfecting supplies should also be a must.

As much as possible, workers should not share tools or equipment. However, if not sharing tools is not possible, it’s advisable to provide the workforce with alcohol-based wipes and give them instructions on how to clean shared tools and equipment before and after use.

Keep Workers Informed

Agencies like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have issued guidelines for a safe working environment. As the owner of a construction business, it is your responsibility to disseminate such information to your workers and enforce the rules.

You must post notices all over the construction site to provide the workforce with updated safety procedures and information that will help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Implement Monitoring Measures

Considering how highly communicable COVID-19 is, construction site owners must implement strict and consistent monitoring measures of the site and everyone in it. Performing temperature checks with non-contact thermometers should be done regularly. There must also be dedicated personnel for documenting safety or health-related issues on the construction site as well as reminding workers to comply with social distancing and sanitation measures in place.

Create a Response Plan

What if one or several members of your workforce exhibit symptoms of COVID-19?

Providing all employees a safe work environment is one of the primary duties of an employer, and a possibly coronavirus-infected worker can indeed jeopardize the safety of everyone in the workplace. However, before taking action in a situation where a worker appears to be exhibiting symptoms or is already infected or exposed to the coronavirus, keep in mind that your workers have rights, and they should never be violated.

That said, employers can send a possibly infected worker home to self-quarantine or advise him to seek medical care immediately. You must, however, consciously do this in a manner that won’t come off as discriminatory, retaliatory, or punitive. If you and human resources can draw up a standard for you and your managers and supervisors to follow in such situations, then do so.

You also need to immediately suspend work in the area where the worker exhibiting symptoms was assigned, and ensure that it is cleaned and sanitized.

Most importantly, inform your workforce of what happened, and advise them of possible exposure so they can, if necessary, take self-quarantine measures. Doing so will also underscore the real danger posed by coronavirus and encourage them to take social distancing and sanitization protocols even more seriously.

Communication is Key

Much as we want the COVID-19 pandemic to end the soonest possible time, it’s a fact that there is no vaccine or cure for the disease just yet, and there is no indication that there’s going to be one anytime soon.

In the uncertainty that surrounds the COVID-19 situation, it’s absolutely crucial to update everyone involved, from stakeholders and suppliers to your entire workforce, of any developments regarding the status of your construction project, as well as any new information related to the coronavirus. So, keep communication lines open at all times.

These are just some of the best practices that you can implement for your construction project amid the COVID-19 pandemic. You can also come up with other policies that you believe will be appropriate for your specific project, as long as they’re in keeping with government-mandated guidelines and labor laws.

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