While millions of Americans hunker down and stay home during the coronavirus outbreak, much of the construction industry in California has continued.

At the same time, the health of construction workers and the general public cannot be ignored. The federal government did not issue specific mandates to the construction industry; thus, states and cities found it necessary to enact their own policies.

Governor Newsom’s March 19 executive order N-33-20 directed all Californians to stay home or their place of residence. Still, it also granted exemptions to those as needed to maintain continuity of operations of essential critical infrastructure sectors and other sectors. Additionally, some California cities and counties are adopting sometimes stricter rules on types of construction work that is permissible in their areas.

It’s important to know that a newly formed task force of most of the construction associations in the state, which includes ECA, believe that all construction should be allowed during the pandemic, but only if the absolute highest level of safety and health vigilance is maintained—and offer numerous resources in an effort to keep workers safe while keeping construction going.

On the job

Infrastructure projects are complex. When a slowdown occurs, it can impact the entire supply chain from materials to end-users. Public projects could also have potential longer-term economic repercussions on taxpayers. It’s crucial that vital infrastructure projects not be left unattended during this crisis.

Social distancing and more

Construction associations and their trade union partners, including SW Regional Council of Carpenters, Int. Union of Operating Engineers, SC District Council of Laborers (LIUNA), Cement Masons, Teamsters, and LA/OC Building Trades are working to provide insight, updates, and resources for the workforce regarding social distancing, worksite cleanliness and more.

Guidelines include:

  1. Practice social distancing by maintaining a minimum 6-foot distance from others.
  2. Preclude gatherings of any size, and anytime two or more people must meet, ensure a minimum 6-foot separation.
  3. Provide personal protective equipment such as gloves, goggles, face shields and face masks as appropriate for the activity performed.
  4. The owner/contractor shall designate a site-specific COVID-19 supervisor to enforce this guidance. A designated COVID-19 supervisor shall be present on the construction site at all times during construction activities. The COVID19 supervisor can be an on-site worker who is designated to carry this role.
  5. Identify “choke points” and “high risk areas” where workers stand together, such as hallways, hoists and elevators, break areas, and buses, and control them so social distancing is maintained.
  6. Minimize interactions when picking up or delivering equipment or materials, ensure minimum 6-foot separation.
  7. Stagger the trades as necessary to reduce density and maintain minimum 6- foot separation social distancing.
  8. Discourage workers from using other workers’ phones, work tools and equipment. If necessary, clean and disinfect them before and after use.
  9. Post, in areas visible to all workers, required hygienic practices including not touching face with unwashed hands or with gloves; washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; use of hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.Place wash stations or hand sanitizers in multiple locations to encourage hand hygiene.
  10. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces such as workstations, keyboards, telephones, handrails, machines, shared tools, elevator control buttons and doorknobs;
  11. Cover the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing as well as other hygienic recommendations by the CDC.
  12. Require anyone on the project to stay home if they are sick, except to get medical care.
  13. Have employees inform their supervisor if they have a family member sick at home with COVID-19.
  14. Maintain a daily attendance log of all workers and visitors.

Getting through this together

This sentiment remains true during COVID-19 as the construction industry makes great efforts to enhance safety and health for its workforce during this time of crisis, and managing disruptions to projects and infrastructure productivity.