Contractors in Hard-Hit Tennessee Struggle to Repair Tornado Damage Amid COVID-19 Pandemic
From March 2-3, a powerful storm hit Middle Tennessee, bringing with it tornadoes with wind speeds up to 165 mph. In addition to causing over two dozen deaths, the storm “injured scores of people and damaged or destroyed homes, businesses, schools and churches across four counties.” At least 48 structures around Nashville were destroyed. As Tennessee residents and construction crews began to rebuild, they were hit with yet another catastrophe, this one on a global scale.
Below, a Nashville construction lawyer discusses the challenges facing construction companies that are racing to rebuild and repair tornado-damaged structures while struggling to overcome the new threat that is the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. If you are a contractor operating out of Nashville during this difficult time, remember that the Nashville construction lawyers from Cotney Attorneys & Consultants are always here to assist.
The Need to Rebuild
The COVID-19 pandemic could not have come at a worse time for Tennessee residents. Faced with an infectious virus, many residents are left without the shelter or essentials that they would need to weather a quarantine. As can be expected, the brave men and women of the construction industry are not prepared to leave the people of their community without recourse.
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Addressed to Gov. Bill Lee, a letter from the Home Builders Association of Tennessee and other groups reads:
While the nation and our state deal with the public health crisis, many Tennesseans are still reeling from the March 3rd tornadoes. Many homes and businesses are either damaged or destroyed, and this health crisis has hit just as rebuilding begins in the aftermath of those storms. Homeowners and business owners need our resources to rebuild, and we need the opportunity to help them.
It’s true. Tennessee and Nashville have enacted stay-at-home orders, but homeowners can’t very well do that unless their homes are repaired from tornado damage. Tennessee residents also need roads, hospitals, and vital infrastructure — essential services maintained by construction. As construction companies scramble to provide essential services to Tennessee residents, they are also tasked with abiding by safety regulations in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Consult a Nashville construction attorney with any questions regarding stay-at-home orders in your area.
Safety Regulations That Must Be Adhered To
To begin, construction companies in Nashville and Davidson County must abide by the now stricter Safer at Home Order. The revised order states that no more than two people are allowed in an elevator at any given time. Furthermore, construction sites must have sanitation stations at every floor where there is work. Finally, social distancing must be carried out “to the maximum extent possible.”
Employers should follow recommendations made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as regulations set forth by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Among other steps that should be part of an infectious disease preparedness and response plan, you should:
- Promote handwashing
- Encourage workers to stay home if they are sick
- Routinely clean and disinfect surfaces
- Stagger schedules to increase physical distance between workers.
Although OSHA regulations do not specifically address the COVID-19 pandemic, there are a number of key OSHA standards that apply to COVID-19, including standards related to personal protective equipment (PPE) and occupational exposure to potentially infectious materials. Failure to abide by these standards could risk the safety of your employees. For assistance providing your employees with a safe jobsite, consider getting one of our COVID-19 Protection Kits complete with a jobsite preparedness and response plan.
The Work Must Go On
Contractors working out of Tennessee are facing a challenge unlike any other. Not only are they helping to rebuild an area ravaged by tornadoes, but they are contending with a pandemic while doing so. It’s essential that construction companies be given the tools necessary to abide by safety rules while rebuilding damaged areas of Nashville and Putnam County. Our Nashville contractor lawyers are here to provide those tools.
If your company is in need of legal assistance during this difficult time, know that the team of Nashville contractor attorneys from Cotney Attorneys & Consultants is here to help. For an affordable, monthly price, your firm can have access to an on-demand attorney who can answer any and all of your legal questions. This service is vital for ensuring that your company keeps up with the ever-changing laws coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic. For assistance protecting your company and your workers as they rebuild tornado-damaged Nashville, partner with the team of attorneys from Cotney Attorneys & Consultants.
If you would like to speak with a Nashville contractor lawyer, please contact us today.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.