The COVID-19 outbreak has affected and shut down construction projects around the world. Among U.S. job sites still operating, contractors are taking a number of steps to curb the spread of coronavirus. They include:
Creating an infection control plan that encourages — and provides the tools for — good hygiene. Workers are being trained on infection control and social distancing measures and companies are stepping up sanitization and disinfecting efforts and making more hand sanitization stations available. According to the CDC, employees should wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after they have been in a public place, the restroom or after blowing their nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, they should use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol, covering all surfaces of the hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry. Employees should avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Companies also are arranging for any portable job site toilets to be cleaned by the leasing company more frequently.
Adjusting schedules. The goal is to reduce the number of people on a job site at the same time and to allow for social distancing among workers on the job site.
Setting ground rules for everyone on the construction site. Companies are making sure all workers understand the conditions they need to meet before entering the job site. According to the CDC, employees should understand they should not go to work if they are feeling sick, have a fever or a cough or shortness of breath. They should avoid contact with sick people, avoid shaking hands when greeting others and avoid large gatherings or meetings of 10 people or more. They should stay at least 6 feet away from others on job sites and in gatherings, meetings, and training sessions.
Screening workers and visitors. Many construction sites are pre-screening workers and visitors entering the job site. In some cases, anyone entering the job site must pass a temperature screening and answer several health questions. Anyone in the back office who has the ability to work remotely is encouraged to do so.
Disinfecting common surfaces frequently. Companies are making sure that interiors and door handles of construction vehicles and machines and the handles of equipment and tools that are shared are being disinfected regularly. Tool sharing is being discouraged; if it’s necessary to share a tool, workers are being encouraged to disinfect them before and after each use.
Not forgetting about mental health. The coronavirus pandemic is having wide-reaching effects on almost every aspect of American life. Understandably, many people report feeling anxious, afraid and unsure about what’s next. In an informal Construction Dive survey, nearly three-quarters of construction industry respondents noted “employee anxiety” as their top concern currently, above material shortages and the prospect of government shutdowns. You can’t predict the future, but you can encourage your team members to care for their mental health and communicate with them vital information as much as possible.