The COVID-19 pandemic will continue to pose cross-contamination and exposure risks for the construction industry (indeed, every industry) for potentially years to come. Construction supervisors and owner/operators will need to provide education that defines new workplace safety standards for the remainder of 2020. OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) has released its construction safety tips and guidelines for post-coronavirus:
- Discourage space invaders – Encourage workers to avoid physical contact and maintain 6-foot distancing where possible. This includes inside jobsite trailers.
- Encourage workers to report any safety and health concerns immediately.
- Face-to-face meetings – Keep jobsite meetings short and reinforce distancing practices.
- Keep cool – Offer shaded rest areas, plenty of water stations, and switch to nighttime work shifts if dangerously hot days pose serious health risks.
- Masking – Mask-wearing may be recommended but mandates are unlikely to be enforceable. Allow workers to wear masks or not unless based on community/legal requirements.
- Portable toilet sanitation – Construction jobsite toilet cleaning and disinfection should be increased and hand sanitizers provided. Hand sanitizers should be refilled/replaced frequently.
- PPE – Personal protective equipment should be used when needed, as always. Provide training in proper PPE use.
- Promote personal hygiene and “respiratory etiquette” – Coughs and sneezes should always be covered. If access to soap and water is limited, provide hand-sanitizer stations throughout the jobsite.
- Put it in writing – Construction safety diligence will be more important than ever before. Be able to show documentation that construction safety training has been completed by all workers. Document instances of best-efforts in reducing cross-contamination and disease exposure risks. Record days/times workers left the job due to illness.
- Use EPA-approved cleaning products – Cleaning products should meet standards for SARS-CoV-2. Alcohol-based wipes should be used on shared tools before/after use (while following manufacturer instructions for cleaning).
- Workaholics are no longer jobsite super-heroes – Reinforce policies to discourage workers to stay home if they are sick.
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