The coronavirus pandemic has caused major shakeups in the economy and has impacted job sites all over the world. Construction sites, in particular, have not been immune to outbreaks of Covid-19, especially as construction can’t simply grind to a halt the way that other industries have been able to pause.
If you find yourself questioning the best ways to keep your team safe on the jobsite or facing questions of whether it is safe to return to work, Miami contractor attorneys can help explain the best course of action. An attorney will also ensure that you are staying compliant with regulations set forth by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) while still following guidelines from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, there are a few measures you can put into place prior to contacting an attorney that will help keep your team safe.
Enact Social Distancing When Possible
Activities with the lowest risk of transmission of COVID-19 take place outside when people can remain at least six feet apart and reduce their contact with visitors or the public to as little as possible. Of course, it may not always be possible for workers to remain at least six feet apart, but providing tasks that can be completed separately can be helpful in preventing the spread.
This may require you to reprioritize some projects. For example, if a project requires several team members to be in a small enclosed space together, especially in a poorly ventilated area, you may need to consider alternative ways to complete the project.
Provide the Appropriate PPE
If you are unable to keep team members distanced from each other, or if your team must complete a project in a poorly ventilated area, it is important to factor in the need for personal protective equipment (PPE). A Miami construction attorney will help you create space in your budget to provide the correct PPE and will discuss which types of PPE are best for your specific project.
PPE for construction projects is different from traditional hospital PPE gear but may still include facial coverings, such as N95 masks, face shields, and disposable clothing coverings. Construction workers should still adhere to traditional PPE requirements as well, such as steel-toed boots, snugly fitting gloves, earplugs, and hard hats.
It’s important to note that cloth face coverings are not a part of PPE and are not appropriate substitutes for PPE, such as respirators (like N95 respirators) or medical face masks (like surgical masks), in workplaces where respirators or face masks are recommended or required to protect the wearer.
Per OSHA: “While wearing cloth face coverings is a public health measure intended to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in communities, it may not be practical for workers to wear a single cloth face covering for the full duration of a work shift (e.g., eight or more hours) on a construction site if they become wet, soiled, or otherwise visibly contaminated during the work shift. If cloth face coverings are worn on construction sites, employers should provide readily available clean cloth face coverings (or disposable facemask options) for workers to use when the coverings become wet, soiled, or otherwise visibly contaminated.”
Provide Handwashing Stations and Hand Sanitizer
The jobsite may not always have access to running water; however, it’s important to provide hand sanitizing stations and handwashing stations where possible. You should also work to ensure that restrooms, including portable toilets, are sanitized often.
Miami construction lawyers can provide assistance with understanding employee’s rights to restrooms and handwashing stations and help you find room in your project budget for the provision of these assets.
Limit In-Person Meetings and Training
In-person meetings and training sessions may be difficult to avoid, especially because OSHA inspections may take place and require you to be in close proximity to others. However, Miami contractor lawyers will discuss with you which meetings and training sessions can be postponed or held virtually without impacting OSHA compliance.
Although training sessions may be limited, it is important to train employees on the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 as well as the proper way to sanitize their individual work areas. To minimize meetings, you should also provide all policies and procedures in writing, including:
- The types, proper use, limitations, location, handling, decontamination, removal, and disposal of any PPE being used.
- The importance of staying home if they are sick.
- Wearing masks over their noses and mouths to prevent them from spreading the virus.
- The need to continue using other normal control measures, including PPE, necessary to protect workers from other job hazards associated with construction activities.
- Using Environmental Protection Agency-approved cleaning chemicals from List N or that have label claims against the coronavirus for cleaning frequently touched surfaces like tools, handles, and machines.
- The need to report any safety and health concerns.
Adopt a Staggered Schedule When Possible
It may seem impossible to stagger schedules; however, the fewer workers are on the jobsite at once, the lower the potential risk of spreading coronavirus. If possible, splitting shifts into morning and evening can help. An attorney can help discuss possible schedule changes if you are unsure which can be changed.
If you have questions about how to handle the corresponding impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Miami construction law attorneys from Cotney Construction Law can help. They will discuss your legal obligations and rights to help you stay in compliance with OSHA and CDC guidelines.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.