Construction Safety Practices for COVID-19
While many people are working from home during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, many construction projects are in full swing. But to protect employees – and deadlines – construction companies and workers must follow construction safety practices for COVID-19. The safety experts at Safety Management Group in Indianapolis tackled this topic in a recent blog post, summarized here.
Monitor and Enforce Physical Distancing
Because coronavirus-bearing droplets can travel up to 27 feet through a couch or sneeze, it is critical to ensure physical distancing between workers. Some sites report OSHA inspectors verifying physical distancing, housekeeping and sanitation of break areas. Take these steps:
- Evaluate and include COVID-19-safe practices into job briefings and task hazard assessments. Identify whether each task can be performed by a single employee, and if not, what type of Personal Protective Equipment is needed to assure the safety of all employees.
- Monitor workers for proper social distancing on the jobsite and in parking areas.
- Modify work schedules by staggering shifts or offering alternate days of work or dedicated shifts can reduce the number of workers on a site at any time. Breaks should also be scheduled to reduce interactions.
- Reduce Meetings. Whenever possible, perform meetings online or via conference call. Limit groups to no more than 10 people. Make sure everyone is at least six feet apart.
- Evaluate confined spaces for maximum occupancy and to determine how to maintain physical distancing. Post signage as a reminder of restrictions.
Review Site Logistics and Control
Limit the number of jobsite visitors and screen all workers and visitors to verify they do not have a fever. Deliveries to the site should be carefully planned with contact and cleaning protocols:
- Identify specific areas as laydown sites for deliveries.
- Paint lines to limit the areas for gang boxes and material sources.
- Place barriers to separate workers from delivery locations.
- Keep trash in specific locations where it can easily be removed from the site.
- Instruct delivery personnel to remain in their vehicles when possible and have minimal contact with site workers.
- Adopt a zero-tolerance policy for working while sick and encourage sick workers to remain home and self-quarantine.
Increase Sanitation and Hygiene
- Frequent handwashing is a critical practice at this time. Be sure jobsites have adequate facilities and supplies.
- Eliminate sharing of tools wherever possible and clean all tools regularly.
- Disinfect shared equipment (including tools and vehicles) before and after each use.
- Users of the tools or vehicles should wash or sanitize their hands before and after use.
Don’t assume that workers are well-informed about the realities of COVID-19. Much false information is being shared. In addition to posting and communicating COVID-19 policies, supervisors and safety personnel should discuss COVID-19 protocols, such as how to perform proper distancing, how to report if they exhibit symptoms or suspect a fellow worker might be ill, steps for disinfecting and when workers who have exhibited symptoms can return to the worksite.
Make sure workers are aware that their off-work behavior can expose them to the virus. They should follow any government stay-at-home orders and practice social distancing when shopping, exercising or engaging in any other essential activities.
These construction safety practices for COVID-19 can help keep workers safe – and worksites on-schedule. As with all safety efforts, steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on your jobsites will only succeed with the complete encouragement and cooperation of company leadership at all levels.
- Read the full article by Safety Management Group
- OSHA COVID-19 Information
- NIOSH Coronavirus Resources
- Small Business Administration Disaster Loan Assistance for Small Businesses
- US Chamber of Commerce Coronavirus Small Business Guide
- COVID / Coronavirus safety signs, posters and more