It might not be necessary for you to shut down your construction operations in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. Not all workplaces, and for sure not all construction sites, are the same or go by the same rules. Site by site, each place is different. And then, the rules vary based on what city and state you’re in. That being said, all possible precautions should be taken to ensure a job site is safe from spreading the pandemic. At DBaC, we take pride in our sterling safety record.
Clearly, if anyone shows up sick, they should be sent home immediately. If anyone is concerned about contracting the virus at the job site, they should also be excused. The fact that this virus can be spread via asymptomatic carriers has caused near-total shutdowns in many places already. The nice thing about construction job sites is that modifications can be made to ensure activity can continue safely.
This means that some tasks, like wrestling a window frame into place, are put off or reevaluated for the time being in favor of other tasks. Wrestling a window frame into place basically requires carpenters to stand shoulder-to-shoulder. Many other tasks on the site can be better facilitated with social distancing protocols in place.
Shift start times can be staggered and crews spread out more so that social distancing expectations are accommodated. Personal protective equipment can be made readily available and mandated to be worn on the job site. It is in fact imperative that this equipment, such as masks, hand sanitizer, wipes, thermometers and the like be furnished by the employer and made abundantly available. Workers who cannot ensure their personal protection cannot be expected to be productive.
Furthermore, any worker who is not following new procedures for maintaining a safe workplace by not utilizing PPE properly, not washing their hands or using hand sanitizer properly, not wiping down equipment properly, may require a reminder or two from the foreman before a gentle walk to the project gate and a “maybe next time” offer is made. This should be true of any work site with or without a pandemic going on. While the threat of Covid-19 is a very real and deeply concerning one, site workers are expected to be professionals who have a responsibility not only to their fellow workers, but to their loved ones outside of their work environment, the people they go home to at the end of the day.
Covid-19 and its attached considerations have shown the importance of measures that were frequently ignored or put aside in the name of getting the job done as quickly as possible. Prior to the pandemic, it seemed easy to ignore some health or safety regulations, at least until someone got seriously injured. At construction sites, like at any other workplace, corners are sometimes cut and people are sometimes put at greater risk than they need to be.
Other measures that have been taken at job sites include expanded spaces for lunch, decontamination stations for tools and equipment, extra sinks to promote proper hand hygiene, and spacing out of work crews to ensure social distancing requirements are met. As long as each person is doing their part to act responsibly, there’s no reason a construction work site shouldn’t be able to remain open. Are you seeing a lot of changes happening at your worksite? What kinds of new rules are being implemented to protect workers and their families?