One important area that has been greatly impacted by COVID-19 is construction safety. The pandemic has shown us that the construction industry needs even higher standards for safety and health. Our most asked question has been “What are GC’s doing to keep their people safe from COVID-19?” We have spoken to many industry leaders and used our researchers to locate the best manuals being used right now. As a guide, we’ve used what we feel is the best safety manual for COVID-19 in regard to minimizing the risk of every staff member. It was created by large automotive supplier (LEAR); It is very detailed, yet easy to follow. We’ve had a lot of positive response on it from our clients. Many firms have struggled with health and safety protocols due to this unprecedented virus. Protect your most important assets – your employees! Here are some tips for developing safety protocols for your firm.
Site-Specific Safety Protocols
Construction firms need to focus on setting up pandemic response teams and creating site-specific protocols going forward. Forming an effective pandemic response team should be the first step. It should always be cross functional and led by firm managers. Although it might be possible to fill some of these positions from within, some organizations may have to recruit new candidates to lead these areas:
- Employee Access Control
- Virus Prevention and Protocols
- Sanitation and Disinfection
- Communications and Training
- PPE and Materials
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to opening your business back up once it’s safe to do so, but you want to ensure that you’re following any federal guidelines that are being passed down along with other applicable state and local laws. It’s best left to individual executives to address specific requirements and exceptions for jobsites. From social distancing and personal protective equipment to daily self-screening and transportation, leaders have to make sure that new protocols are understandable.
Responses, Materials, Equipment
Employees are going to need access to preventative inventory and equipment that might not have been required before. Operations should have at least a 30-day supply of disinfectant materials such as soap, disinfection spray, hand gel, paper towels and tissue. Firms need the same supply of personal protective equipment including face masks, face shields, gloves, and glasses on-site.
Disinfecting, Inbound Materials, Transportation
Businesses that were closed are encouraged to 100% disinfect their offices before allowing employees to return. In addition to replacing HVAC air filters, other areas that should be cleaned are: tools, workstations and equipment, screens, restrooms, cafeteria, lockers, common surface areas, computer screens and keyboards. Construction equipment, like transport vehicles and forklifts, should also be cleaned using hospital grade disinfectant.
Self-Screening, Social Distancing, Quarantining
Social distancing protocol will be essential to reducing the spread of COVID-19. Leaders should be encouraging employees to stay at least six feet away from coworkers, customers, etc., while eliminating physical contact like handshakes. In the event that employers can’t accommodate social distancing, then personal protection equipment should be provided to mitigate exposure. Self-screening and quarantining protocols should follow CDC guidelines monitoring for these symptoms:
- Temperature >38ºC (100.4 ºF) or higher, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, tiredness
Quarantining stipulates workers remain away from the workplace for 14 days and avoid leaving home. These are practical recommendations based on CDC and WHO guidelines that can be adapted to fit different scenarios so that employees feel that their work environments are safe and comfortable once again.
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