The COVID-19 Pandemic has reshaped the globe, and it has correspondingly affected the way we live, communicate, share, and work.
Though most affected by this pandemic are the industries that rely on people’s patronage for financial gain, every other industry has had to adapt to the guidelines implemented by our health officials and state and government leaders as well. One industry that has had to adapt like many others is the construction industry.
Contractors, large and small, whether you’re taking the necessary steps to get licensed or have been a contractor on the job for decades, have all had to deal with the ramifications of a worldwide pandemic. But, like humans always do, we find a way around our obstacles, and contractors have also adapted fairly well to the “new normal.”
COVID 19 Control and Prevention
Early on, after the initial onset of the pandemic, the occupational safety and health association (OSHA), came out with a comprehensive set of guidelines specific for construction work. These guidelines have been modified over time, but they stand as an official guide that most contractors are recommended to follow.
OSHA set forth a table to identify risk levels and the corresponding safety measures implemented for each level. Risk levels are listed as lower, medium, high, and very high.
- Lower: Tasks that allow employees to remain at least 6 feet apart and involve little contact with the public, visitors, or customers.
- Medium: Tasks that require workers to be within 6 feet of one another or those which require workers to be in close contact (within 6 feet) with customers, visitors, or members of the public.
- High: Entering an indoor worksite occupied by people such as other workers, customers, or residents suspected of having or known to have COVID-19, including when an occupant of the site reports signs and symptoms consistent with COVID-19.
- Very High: Note that OSHA determined Very High risk was not applicable to most construction tasks.
Each contractor assumes full responsibility of his or her own crew and is responsible for determining which actions to take accordingly for each risk level. As such, OSHA recommended that preventative protocols be put in place for every construction site, whether large scale or small.
Nobody likes going to work and working in a mess. The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t changed this at all. But, it has made for a much cleaner workplace as guidelines and regulations have been implemented.
On a construction site, it is often common for workers to bring their own tools. But, though workers do use their own tools, these tools are often shared. Recommended sanitation procedures assert that each worker should keep his or her own set of tools and not share them during work. Additionally, shared tools should be cleaned and sanitized prior to another worker using them. Wearing gloves while handling community tools is also highly recommended.
Workstations are other areas that need constant sanitation, particularly if considering a control station with instruments, knobs, wheels, and buttons. If control or engineering stations are manned on a per-shift basis, the outgoing shift should sanitize everything prior to the oncoming shift.
In addition to proper work and safety attire, masks and respirators are recommended and being heavily utilized while on the job site.
Disposable masks are considered best for cleanliness, as you can throw them away after each use. Personal cloth masks are being worn on some job sites, but this is largely up to the contracting supervisor to determine exactly what type of PPE should be used on each individual job site.
Living with the New Normal
As of 2021, we have gone a year with guidelines that change every other week. Just as the world has had to go along with these shifting safety policies, so too have our contractors and construction workers across the globe.
The best way to prevent an outbreak and to keep your construction timeline on track is to implement OSHA safety recommendations, use common sense when handling tools, and regularly check on your workers’ health.