Safety in construction is always priority number one
While millions of Americans hunker down and stay home during the coronavirus outbreak, the construction industry is one of the essential sectors. As workers head to job sites, COVID-19 safety is also essential as many construction sites consider the jobs that can be done safely.
It’s important to know that all of our associations believe that all construction should be allowed during the pandemic and offer numerous resources in an effort to keep workers safe while keeping construction going.
On the job
Infrastructure projects are complex. When a slowdown occurs, it can impact the entire supply chain from materials to end users. Public projects could also have potential longer-term economic repercussions on taxpayers. This is why it’s important that vital infrastructure projects not be left unattended during this crisis.
At the same time, the health of construction workers cannot be ignored. The federal government did not issue specific mandates to the construction industry; thus states and cities found it necessary to enact their own policies. Governor Newsom’s March 19 executive order directed all Californians to stay home, but it also granted an exception to those as needed to maintain continuity of operations of essential critical infrastructure sectors and additional sectors. Additionally, some California cities and counties are adopting sometimes stricter rules on types of construction work that is permissible in their areas.
Social distancing and more
Individual unions also offer insight, updates, and resources for their members regarding social distancing and more, including:
- Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters
- International Union of Operating Engineers
- Liuna: Southern California District Council of Laborers
Going into even more detail, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on April 1 announced a “COVID-19 exposure control plan” for construction sites, recommending protocols that include symptom checks, physical distancing, hygiene, and decontamination. Under the new guidelines, workers should:
- Practice social distancing by maintaining a minimum 6-foot distance from others.
- Preclude gatherings of any size, and anytime two or more people must meet, ensure a minimum 6-foot separation.
- Provide personal protective equipment such as gloves, goggles, face shields and face masks as appropriate for the activity being performed.
- The owner/contractor shall designate a site-specific COVID-19 supervisor to enforce this guidance. A designated COVID-19 supervisor shall be present on the construction site at all times during construction activities. The COVID19 supervisor can be an on-site worker who is designated to carry this role.
- Identify “choke points” and “high-risk areas” where workers are forced to stand together, such as hallways, hoists and elevators, break areas, and buses, and control them so social distancing is maintained.
- Minimize interactions when picking up or delivering equipment or materials, ensure minimum 6-foot separation.
- Stagger the trades as necessary to reduce density and maintain minimum 6-foot separation social distancing.
- Discourage workers from using other workers’ phones, work tools and equipment. If necessary, clean and disinfect them before and after use.
- Post, in areas visible to all workers, required hygienic practices including not touching face with unwashed hands or with gloves; washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; use of hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, cleaning AND disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces such as workstations, keyboards, telephones, handrails, machines, shared tools, elevator control buttons and doorknobs; covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing as well as other hygienic recommendations by the CDC.
- Place wash stations or hand sanitizers in multiple locations to encourage hand hygiene.
- Require anyone on the project to stay home if they are sick, except to get medical care.
- Have employees inform their supervisor if they have a sick family member at home with COVID-19.
- Maintain a daily attendance log of all workers and visitors.
Getting through this together
This sentiment remains true during COVID-19 as the industry takes great efforts to manage disruptions to projects and infrastructure productivity. RebuildSoCal supports the thousands of union workers on the job and applauds them for their focused attention to safety practices during this health crisis.
The Rebuild SoCal Partnership is an organization that represents 2,750 construction firms and more than 90,000 union workers in all 12 Southern California counties. Based in Anaheim, California – SCPFJ is dedicated to working with elected officials and educating the public in Southern California on the continued need for infrastructure funding and to enhance the regions’ workforce development while creating career construction jobs.