Seven months into the pandemic and construction remains steady and “essential.” As we begin the 4th quarter of 2020, a year that has seen unprecedented events unfold across the nation, the construction industry has faced and adapted to several new challenges—ones that were on nobody’s radar screen during the first few months of the year.
Included in this upheaval have been various Executive Orders regarding what is “essential” and where. There are Cal/OSHA regulations, protocols, and guidance on Exposure Control Plans. There are emergency Workers Comp’ policy changes regarding the tracking of COVID-19 cases, and fortunately, no changes to Experience Modification calculation just yet. There are Memorandums of Understanding and Agreement with our various signatory labor unions regarding waivers from Supplemental Sick Leave Ordinances in the municipalities in which we work. Additional agreements affect Health and Welfare contribution schedules for employees being paid sick leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. And there is more.
Because of the gravity of the pandemic situation in California, we can expect more regulatory restrictions in the months and years to come, primarily through Cal/OSHA and other divisions of the Department of Industrial Relations. We have seen an uptick in citations issued from Cal/OSHAfor COVID-19 violations. Their violation task force discovered some problems, and employees or even citizens reported others. The fines on these violations have been significant, but the good news is that there are no “construction-related” fines reported as of yet.
As always, the ECA remains committed to assisting our members and the construction community in keeping their workforce and the public safe and healthy—especially now during these uncertain times. We urge all our members to remain vigilant with their COVID-19 and all safety-related practices and remind everyone to keep their Workplace Safety and Exposure Control Plans up to date.
During these seven months, there has been an extraordinary effort by the industry to promote, educate, and enforce critical COVID-19 safety practices resulting in a proven positive track record. We must continue to demonstrate the high expectations and best practices that the heavy-civil construction industry upholds and implements every day, setting the standard, “walking the talk,” and enforcing zero-tolerance rules on our job sites and other work areas.
Protecting our teams, families, and communities is our number one priority as we build and maintain our state’s vital infrastructure. Let’s be aware. Let’s be vigilant. Let’s keep the construction industry “essential” and vital as we assist with California’s recovery.
By Ray Baca Executive Director Email: [email protected]