Construction Sites and COVID-19

COVID-19 has changed the jobsite. Contractors need to work with owners to identify potential risks on each site during construction activities and develop a safety plan for their employees, visitors and inspectors. Contractors need to review and enhance their infection control plans to include awareness, training, and use of personal protective equipment.

NFSA surveyed several contractors in the past few days. Below are some of the practices and precautions being used and implemented across jobsites:

  • Review and adjust project schedules to allow for social distancing, including staggered work scheduling and extra shifts to physically separate employees working on site.
  • Develop a written policy with provisions to inform employees and for enforcement.
  • Complete a health survey prior to entering a work site.
  • Conduct job site safety briefings remotely and do not report to construction trailers.
  • Provide facilities and procedures for proper disposal and removal of used cleaning and PPE supplies.
  • Eliminate coffee and lunch trucks and use of centralized gathering or eating areas. Advise employees to bring their own food, drink, and utensils.
  • Encourage employees to change and wash clothing when they get home or to use on site facilities, if available.
  • Prepare additional contingency plans for potential reduction in work force, limited material supplies, or the need to suspend a job site for cleaning.
  • Plan for maintaining job sites safely and securely during any shut down periods, including from fires during construction and potential exposure hazards.
  • Work with owners and facility managers to ensure essential ITM work is continued, systems remain in service, and impairments continue to be addressed immediately.
  • Work with building and fire officials to schedule plan reviews, permitting, and field inspections.
  • Review and comply with OSHA requirements for employers to prevent employee exposure to the virus including PPE standards requiring gloves, goggles or safety glasses, face protection, and respiratory protection.

The CDC has not made specific recommendations for the construction industry regarding COVID exposures; however, the published best practices include:

  • Monitor and follow WHO/CDC/OSHA recommendations.
  • Monitor and follow federal, state, and local government recommendations.
  • Practice social distancing as recommended by the CDC to include maintaining a six-foot distance, no shaking hands, no gathering of more than ten people, covering mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing, and avoid touching your face.
  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Provide a process to recognize and remove sick employees.
  • Provide facilities for and encourage frequent hand washing and sanitizing.
  • Allow and encourage employees to work from home where possible.
  • Provide additional resources and technology to assist remote employees.
  • Cancel in person meetings and shift meetings to online.
  • Only allow essential employees in the office and on job sites
  • Eliminate visitors.
  • Eliminate travel.
  • Make provisions for additional cleaning including restrooms, equipment, tools, and commonly touched areas.