Nevada OSHA Provides Additional Requirements for Construction Employers to Address Feasibility of Social Distancing at Construction Sites

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When Nevada’s Governor identified construction as an essential business amid the initial directives of the COVID-19 state of emergency, the executive order required construction employers to “maintain strict social distancing practices to facilitate a minimum of six feet of separation between workers.”  Now, nearly a month later, Nevada’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has recognized that strict social distancing measures are not always practical or feasible among workers on an active construction site.  On April 20, 2020, Nevada OSHA issued revised guidelines addressing ongoing construction activity when social distancing cannot practically be maintained.
 
The guidelines continue to emphasize that safety and training meetings, tailgate talks, and similar gatherings must be restricted to 10 people or less.  Additionally, the employer remains responsible for monitoring employees on lunch breaks, slack periods and in employee parking areas to ensure compliance with social distancing protocols.
 
Yesterday’s revisions to the guidelines, however, recognize that maintaining six feet of social distancing among employees is often neither practical nor feasible during active construction work.  In such circumstances, the construction employer is now required to implement the following measures:
  • Complete a “Job Hazard Analysis” (JHA) for each task, procedure or instance where social distancing is infeasible.  Each JHA must be of equivalent detail and scope as identified in Federal OSHA publication 3071.
  • Each JHA completed for this purpose must specifically identify the task being addressed, hazard being addressed (spread of COVID-19), and controls used to address the hazard.
  • Any policy or procedure identified in the JHA to address the hazard must be at least as effective, or more effective, than six feet of social distancing.
  • Engineering controls, administrative controls, and/or Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) required to implement the policy or procedure identified in the JHA must be provided by the employer.
  • The employer must provide comprehensive training to all impacted staff for the implementation of the policy or procedure identified in the JHA, along with training for use of any and all equipment and PPE necessary for its implementation.

Nevada OSHA is implementing random construction site inspections to monitor compliance with all COVID-19 mandates, including the revised guidelines regarding the JHA procedures. Failure of an employer to observe the guidelines could result in OSHA administrative penalties up to and including site closure in extreme cases.

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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