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May 5, 2020

How a Pandemic Shifted Safety Measures on Construction Sites & What’s Next

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the landscape of construction. Some projects have continued on track, while others have been delayed or abruptly halted. Each state has its guidelines (www.jlconline.com) about construction services being an essential business. What hasn’t changed in the construction industry is the need for safety measures and precautions on construction sites.

The construction industry is known for being a dangerous field to work in, and it should come as no surprise that safety is the biggest concern to employers. On top of this biological hazard known as COVID-19, those on construction sites continue to maintain standard safety procedures. The CDC’s long-standing guideline has been to wash hands for 20 seconds or more; that’s just one  of the ways construction crews have been instructed to practice extra safety during this pandemic. Here are just some of the additional steps that employees have been asked to do:

  1. Employees showing symptoms of COVID-19, have tested positive for, or have been exposed to someone who has tested positive, are required to stay home.
  2. Before the pandemic, large teams would occasionally gather outside to discuss project details. Since the spread of COVID-19, employees must practice social distancing by standing 6 feet apart and do not shake hands (or any other contact greeting) at vital site meetings. All other meetings are being held virtually via teleconferencing and phonecalls.
  3. Employees who must work or travel in close proximity to each other are being asked to wear face coverings over their nose and mouth.
  4. Sharing tools and heavy equipment (such as excavators and dump trucks) is discouraged. If sharing tools or heavy equipment is necessary, employees must first wipe down all tools and equipment contact surfaces with a disinfectant.
  5. Shoe sanitation tubs (with non-bleach sanitizer solution) can be used prior to entering/exiting a job site and changing clothes prior to arriving home is now recommended.
  6. Field offices that used to be filled with design, owner, and contractor teams now have signage on the door giving specific instructions on who is allowed to enter the office. Nobody can enter the office if they are exhibiting signs of illness or have been in contact with those who have tested positive. In some cases, visitors arriving on-site must make a phone call to the occupant(s) of the field office, and are usually then met outside.

No matter what the landscape of the construction sites look like now, Hoyle, Tanner is committed to the health and safety of our employees. We have internal committees that meet daily (sometimes more) to respond to this pandemic. We are following a viral continuity plan which includes guides and instructions on established infection control measures (social distancing, hand washing, etc.) to assist in limiting the spread of the illness, which supports the continuing function of our organization. We are securing personal protective equipment (PPE) and other necessities to support our field staff.  As we move forward, we will continue to update our guidelines and restrictions to match or exceed those enacted by the state during these challenging times.