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New OSHA guidelines on COVID-19 safety for construction sites | 5 key takeaways

In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has issued a new set of guidelines for construction employees and workers. These guidelines pertain to workers in fields including carpentry; ironworking; plumbing; electrical; heating, air conditioning and ventilation; masonry and concrete work; utility construction work; and earthmoving activities. These guidelines also supplement previous recommendations from OSHA on control and prevention for stopping the spread of COVID-19.

 

Below are 5 key takeaways from these new guidelines — full information can be found on OSHA’s website.

  • Remain alert to workplace restrictions or cautions from your local and state government regarding COVID-19. As communities and regions in the United States deal with varying levels of COVID-19 transmission and infections, it is important to first and foremost pay attention to and heed any guidance or ordinances placed by local and state governments related to workplace restrictions and implement safety measures accordingly. Check your state, county or city Department of Health website for local policies related to COVID-19.

 

  • Assess hazard levels posed by different activities at your business or job site and adjust safety measures accordingly. In their published guidelines, OSHA outlines several risk categories for job site activities and methods for mitigating these risks to keep workers safe. Consider additional safety precautions or delaying work related to high-risk activities.

 

  • Train workers to identify risk factors and symptoms of COVID-19, provide guidelines for self-reporting symptoms and implement standard procedures for employees with confirmed or suspected cases to stay home. Provide training for your team to identify risk factors for contracting COVID-19 such as coming into contact with a someone who has a confirmed case and recognizing symptoms related to COVID-19. Have a structure in place for employees to self-report exposure and to stay home and quarantine if they have a confirmed case or until testing can be completed on a suspected case.

 

  • Provide training in sanitation methods on the job site and the proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE). Instruct workers on sanitation methods on the job site, maintaining social distance, wearing masks (when possible) to cover the nose and mouth, and on the proper preparation, use and disposal of all PPE used at your job site.

 

  • Evaluate opportunities to implement more safe work practices at your job site. Take a proactive approach to opportunities for better safe work practices at your job site. These might include:
    • Limiting visitors or customers from entering the site when not essential.
    • Staggering work schedules to reduce the number of workers on-site at any given time.
    • Identifying areas where workers may be congregating such as hallways, elevators, break areas, time clocks and other areas and implementing procedures to increase social distancing in these areas.
    • Working with suppliers to coordinate site deliveries that reduce or eliminate contact between delivery drivers and workers.
    • Keeping in-person meetings as short as possible and considering breaking up large meetings into multiple sessions to limit group size.
    • Cleaning and disinfecting common areas and surfaces such as bathrooms, handwashing sites and break areas more frequently.

 

Visit OSHA’s website for full information on these and other methods for keeping workers safe at your job site.