COVID-19 - Safety Guidance for Construction

Snell & Wilmer

Snell & Wilmer

Since first issuing stay-in-place orders, many California governmental authorities have begun to restrict construction activities by way of limiting what qualifies as an “Essential Business” in the construction sector. The effect has been to narrow the type of construction activity or project, or both that a contractor is engaged in to further limit the application of the exemption to the stay-in-place orders. Anyone engaged in construction activities may want to consider frequently checking the orders in the jurisdiction where your project is located, they change often and differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. One day you could be exempt and the next day you are not. In some states, local authorities can enforce their health orders even if conflicts arise with other orders. In other states, a local authority cannot conflict with the state order. However, construction does continue in California and jurisdictions have been issuing the COVID-19 Safety Guidelines for Construction, which generally require following the below guidelines for active construction sites:

  1. Practice social distancing by maintaining a minimum 6-foot distance from others.
  2. Preclude gatherings of any size and anytime two or more people must meet, ensure minimum 6-foot separation.
  3. Provide personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves, goggles, face shields and face masks as appropriate for the activity being performed.
  4. The owner/contractor shall designate a site specific COVID-19 Supervisor to enforce this guidance. A designated COVID-19 Supervisor shall be present on the construction site at all times during construction activities. The COVID-19 Supervisor can be an on-site worker who is designated to carry this role.
  5. Identify “choke points” and “high-risk areas” where workers are forced to stand together, such as hallways, hoists and elevators, break areas, and buses, and control them so social distancing is maintained.
  6. Minimize interactions when picking up or delivering equipment or materials and ensure minimum 6-foot separation.
  7. Stagger the trades as necessary to reduce density and maintain minimum 6-foot separation social distancing.
  8. Discourage workers from using other workers’ phones, desks, offices, work tools and equipment. If necessary, clean and disinfect them before and after use.
  9. Post, in areas visible to all workers, required hygienic practices, including not touching your face with unwashed hands or with gloves; washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; use of hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, cleaning AND disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces, such as work stations, keyboards, telephones, handrails, machines, shared tools, elevator control buttons, and doorknobs; covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing as well as other hygienic recommendations by the CDC.
  10. Place wash stations or hand sanitizers in multiple locations to encourage hand hygiene.
  11. Require anyone on the project to stay home if they are sick, except to get medical care.
  12. Have employees inform their supervisor if they have a sick family member at home with COVID-19.
  13. Maintain a daily attendance log of all workers and visitors.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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