Returning to Work
Return to Work – Protecting Construction Workers From Coronavirus
As more and more American workers return to their jobs following the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, businesses need to rethink their daily operations to ensure the safety of their employees and the general public. This is no different for construction firms, where multiple contractors and tradespeople on a job site may be working in the same space at any one time.
To help slow the spread of COVID-19, VTC Insurance Group suggests the following strategies aimed at safeguarding your construction staff:
- Discourage sick employees from reporting to work—Above all, any worker who is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g., fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, chills or fatigue) should stay home. Those experiencing such symptoms should also be instructed to consult guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on seeking medical care.
- Encourage social distancing—In terms of COVID-19, social distancing best practices for construction businesses can include:
- Avoid gatherings of 10 or more people
- Keep at least 6 feet of distance from other people
- Host meetings virtually when possible
- Limit the number of people on the job site to essential personnel only
- Encourage staff to work from home when possible
- Discourage people from shaking hands
Beyond these recommendations, there are a number of specific job site and office precautions construction firms should consider. Specifically, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, businesses should:
- Communicate key CDC guidance to workers on how to stay safe from COVID-19. Helpful resources include the following webpages:
- Post signage that encourages workers to stay home when they’re sick and remind them of hygiene best practices to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Sample posters from the CDC can be found here.
- Ask workers targeted questions regarding their current health before they enter the job site. If they answer yes to the following questions, supervisors should ask them to go home and not return to work until further notice:
- Have you been in contact with a person who has tested positive or is in the process of being tested for COVID-19?
- Have you or anyone you’ve been in contact with traveled outside of the United States recently?
- Has a medical professional told you to self-quarantine?
- Are you having trouble breathing, or have you had flu-like symptoms within the past 48 hours (e.g., fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, chills or fatigue)?
- Instruct employees to practice good hygiene. Employees should clean their hands often, either with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer or soap and water. It’s a good idea to strategically place hand sanitizer and hand-washing stations around the job site.
- Instruct employees to:
- Avoid congregating, and keep their distance from other workers where possible
- Avoid sharing tools and personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Clean reusable PPE per the original manufacturer’s recommendation before every use. Used PPE must be disposed of properly
- Utilize disposable gloves as appropriate, and wash their hands after they’re done with them
- Change their clothes before they get home. Dirty clothes should be washed using hot water and laundry sanitizer
- Ensure the work environment is cleaned regularly. This can involve sanitizing doorknobs, keyboards, tools, reusable supplies and equipment
- Avoid using a common water cooler. For increased safety, provide employees with disposable plastic water bottles or instruct them to bring their own
- Avoid scheduling multiple tradespeople at once. This should help limit the amount of individuals on the job site simultaneously
- Sanitize portable toilets frequently
- Avoid cleaning techniques that could generate bio-aerosols
Follow CDC Guidelines and Stay Safe
While the strategies highlighted here can help you protect your workers from COVID-19, it’s important to follow CDC guidance at all times. For more information, click here.
The above content is for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice.