Getting Back to Construction After COVID-19

Construction After COVID-19

April 16, 2020, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) released a revised training and audits statement. The wording is telling: Discretion in enforcement when considering employers’ good-faith efforts to comply with safety and health standards will lead workplace standards during and after COVID-19.

Basically, they’re saying continue doing your best to keep your workplace and employees safe. Continue efforts to meet training requirements by exploring available options. If you’re at a standstill today, create a master plan that details what you plan to do later this year.

Don’t give up.

Coronavirus and Workplace Risks

Hospitals and healthcare facilities may be subject to more onsite OSHA inspections. They are the high-risk hotbed for cross-contamination and protecting workers will take priority for the remainder of 2020.

Here are risk-level examples; they include but aren’t limited to:

  • High risk – Healthcare facilities, hospice/homecare, medical laboratories, medical transport, aerosol-generating engineering sites, etc.
  • Medium risk – General public workplaces (retail, public services, etc.)
  • Low risk – Jobs that require little-to-no contact with general public and co-workers (open-space workplaces)

‘Essential’ Work

Construction is an essential industry but regulations regarding activity are strictly local. Some cities shut down construction work altogether. Some area construction businesses have chosen to stand down to protect their workers.

Project contract wording is now critical to the construction industry. You can’t put employees and/or sub-contractors at risk to fulfill the terms of a contract. Established project requirements are out the window, so re-negotiating will be essential throughout 2020.

Supply Chain Challenges

What materials are plentiful and which ones are in short supply will also dominate our industry throughout the third and fourth quarters of 2020. Much of our plumbing and electrical components come from China.

Building Permit Analysis Now Prepares You for Later

Construction industry companies use building permit data to plan marketing strategies. The information can target specific locales and give you some idea of what commercial and residential real estate development is. Those numbers are used by national economists to predict our country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

You can use that data now to study previous trends and how long our recovery time may be. But before you return to project sites, establish precautions and new workplace guidelines for onsite employees.

To minimize financial losses, take action now. Keep projects alive and get everything in writing. (Emails and texts are valid correspondence to corroborate agreements, but contracts are always better.) Despite the public lack of commitment to “non-essential” construction projects, your vigilance is what will make the difference during this time.

Keep work alive and lay the foundation for new projects.

Information and what you do with it is more critical than ever. If you have questions about data analytics and how to use them, call 800-925-6085 or contact Construction Monitor.

Essential vs. Non-Essential Construction During COVID-19

Construction during COVID-19

Retail stores and other commercial businesses have adjusted to the COVID-19 pandemic as possible. Social distancing governs how we live, work, shop, and play. We’re living in a strange time now.

There’s been much discussion about essential and non-essential services in the United States. How we do business in the construction industry is greatly altered.

“Essential” construction industry projects are prioritized and may resume quickly. “Non-essential” construction projects may be on hold another month. Or longer.

Essential Construction

San Francisco has defined essential vs. non-essential construction for in-the-works projects. There are 8 categories of essential construction projects that may continue working if they follow social distancing requirements:

  1. Affordable housing/income restricted residential units’ development
  2. Construction necessary to safeguard existing construction sites
  3. Construction/repairs for Essential Businesses’ properties
  4. Critical, non-commercial services projects involving homeless, economically disadvantaged, special-needs, and/or elderly
  5. Healthcare projects directly related to COVID-19 response
  6. Projects directly involved with maintenance, operation, or repair of Essential Infrastructure.
  7. Public works projects
  8. Shelters/temporary housing (not including hotels/motels)

The Gray Areas

Companies must follow state-and-local-government-specific construction guidelines. In most areas, non-essential projects are on hold. “New parts of a non-essential infrastructure project” may not be started. However, if your project falls under the non-essential category, there are situations in which you might be able to complete work.

For example:

  • Completion is permissible if the work needed to shut down the project is equal to/more than completing the project.
  • If a housing project has a defined percentage of affordable housing, construction may continue.
  • New housing starts must meet a “critical need.”
  • Residential renovations may continue if the continuance is necessary for safety/functionality.
  • Residential work on vacant properties may proceed if the work will make the property habitable. Construction can be completed to guarantee usable:
    • Bathrooms
    • Ceiling/walls paint (for sanitation to prevent mold/vermin infestations)
    • Electricity
    • HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning)
    • Kitchens
    • Plumbing
  • Roof installation can continue for weather protection.
  • You’ve got 3 walls built. You can build the fourth wall so the structure “stands secure.”

Site-Specific Health and Safety

By now you have developed your company’s site-specific health and safety plan, based on COVID-19 Construction Field Safety Guidelines. Record-keeping is critical: You will need to be able to track employee movements and note potential exposure events.

Be prepared. Soonyou’ll need to work harder…and smarter.

Construction Monitor’s success depends on your success. And the success stories for 2020 will be the construction industry-related businesses that used construction data to gain insight and develop marketing strategies. Call 800-925-6085 or contact Construction Monitor to learn more.