For the construction companies still at work, there are steps employers and workers can take to help stem the spread of coronavirus and keep workers safe and healthy.
Prevent Worker Exposure to Coronavirus
As of this date, Coronavirus is believed to spread from person to person, primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The virus is also believed to spread by people touching surfaces or objects and then touching one’s mouth, nose, or possibly eyes.
The Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) does not currently require employers to have a written coronavirus disease prevention plan. L&I does require all employers to make their employees aware of the hazards associated with coronavirus and to provide prevention training as needed.
Ideas for Social Distancing (more than 6 feet) on Construction Sites
Stagger trades work and work shifts.
Limit work to tasks that are strictly necessary with the goal of maintaining distance.
Being closer than six feet momentarily is considered safe.
Employers may need to schedule multiple smaller meetings for crews, including safety meetings,
trainings and rest/lunch breaks with no more than 10 staff at any one time in one location.
Hold meetings outdoors if possible.
Prohibit large gatherings (currently no more than 10 people) on the job site.
Establish a ‘social distance monitor’ – similar to a safety monitor but a person whose job it is to reinforce the six-foot distance.
Ensure supervisors model ideal behavior.
Use stairs instead of lifts or hoists when possible.
One person in an elevator at a time.
Require that sick workers stay at home or go home if they start to feel/look ill.
Require handwashing just prior to eating food, drink, or using tobacco products.
Promote frequent hand washing by setting up multiple locations.
Ensure frequent re-supply of soap and running water on all jobsites.
Implement regular cleaning at the site, particularly in common areas and touch points including:
- Taps and washing facilities
- Toilet flush and seats
- Door handles and push plates
- Hand rails on staircases and corridors
- Lift and hoist controls
- Machinery and equipment controls
- Food preparation and eating surfaces
- Telephone equipment
- Key boards, photocopiers and other office equipment.
Don’t share food with others on the jobsite untilfurther notice.
Appropriate PPE for jobsite hazards should beworn.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) currently doesnot recommend healthy people wear respirators orfacemasks for protection from coronavirus other thanin healthcare settings
L&I is aware that there is currently a shortage ofN95 disposable respirators on the open market. Disposablehalf-face respirators are widely used in many industrieswhen employers must provide a minimum level ofrespiratory protection. L&I respiratory protection rulesstill apply even though there may be a limited numberof specific respirators available to buy. Employers mustcontinue to provide and direct employees to wearrespirators if required by the work. If respirators cannot be
obtained, delaying the work until the appropriate type ofrespirator can be obtained and provided to employees isone option. In some circumstances using better controls,local exhaust ventilation, or dust suppression (such as wetmethods) may reduce or eliminate the need for respirators.
An N95 is the minimal level of respiratory protection.Especially when employees already have other respiratorsassigned for work, any other particulate respirator willbe as protective. When giving a worker new respiratoryprotection they must be medically cleared and fit testedto wear the new respirator. All requirement s of ourrespiratory protection standard WAC 296-842 can be found