Construction workers received guidance on best practices in preventing the spread of novel coronavirus from New York City. The city has recognized that ordinary practices at construction sites – shared tools, huddled shift meetings and packed schedules with varied trade contractors – can present unique dangers at construction sites.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued non-industry-specific guidance on preparing workplaces for COVID-19, the potentially deadly respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Amid growing concerns of construction workers who share tools and portable commodes without adequate sanitation, New York City has provided guidance to address work practices specific to construction work.
In addition to universal tips on handwashing, cleaning surfaces and monitoring symptoms, the guidance recommends staggered schedules for pre-shift meetings, new employee orientations and other in-person meetings. It also suggests telephonic or outdoor meetings when a group has to convene.
Employers should also:
- Ensure sufficient handwashing stations with soap and running water near commodes and break areas;
- Keep workers at least six feet apart whenever possible while working together or supervising each other;
- Sanitize shared equipment and tools frequently; and
- Stagger trade contractors to prevent spread.
General contractors, prime subcontractors and site owners may also consider developing protocols before workers and inspectors can enter the worksite.