OSHA’s New COVID-19 Guidance for the Construction Workforce
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently published COVID-19 Guidance for the Construction Workforce. In this article, our Florida OSHA defense lawyers will cover the new requirements provided by the federal agency. Now more than ever before, construction companies need to comply with federal safety regulations. If you were recently cited for a safety violation, an OSHA attorney with Cotney Attorneys & Consultants can help you contest this citation. For more information on our legal services, including access to our COVID-19 Protection Kit for a flat fee of $300, consult our Florida OSHA defense attorneys.
Reviewing the 12 COVID-19-Related Tips From OSHA
OSHA is currently undergoing the process of releasing industry-specific tips to help protect the health and safety of American workers during this unique time. For construction professionals, the national safety organization provided the following tips to help reduce exposure to COVID-19. Our OSHA lawyers will provide a little more insight on each of these tips:
1) Encourage workers to stay home if they are sick.
We have previously discussed this tip in several articles, including COVID-19 Preventing Workplace Exposure in Construction. Furthermore, if an employee is exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, separate them from their co-workers and send them home immediately to self-isolate.
2) Allow workers to wear masks over their nose and mouth to prevent them from spreading the virus.
To prevent the transmission of COVID-19 on your jobsite, it’s best for employers to provide their workforce with masks and gloves. It’s critical that professionals in all industries optimize their PPE supply during this time.
3) Continue to use other normal control measures, including personal protective equipment (PPE), necessary to protect workers from other job hazards associated with construction activities.
Regardless of if a project is going on during a pandemic or not, employers remain responsible for the health and safety of their workforce for non-COVID-19-related safety reasons. Contractors and site managers need to monitor PPE use and provide as safe a work environment as possible.
4) Advise workers to avoid physical contact with others and direct employees/contractors/visitors to increase personal space to at least six feet, where possible. Where work trailers are used, all workers should maintain social distancing while inside the trailers.
Although it may be difficult to overcome social distancing challenges on a jobsite, our attorneys encourage construction companies to implement the measures recommended by OSHA to stop the spread of COVID-19. You can learn more about social distancing requirements in this article.
5) Train workers how to properly put on, use/wear, and take off protective clothing and equipment.
Employers will need to ramp up their safety training courses for a variety of initiatives, including safety tips related to properly wearing and removing new forms of PPE. For safety manual drafting services, consult our OSHA lawyers.
6) Encourage respiratory etiquette, including covering coughs and sneezes.
This is another topic we covered in previous articles that remains as relevant today as it did over a month ago. Contractors must abide by all safety rules or they risk being shut down. This includes both public health regulations and the newest legislation from local or state stay-at-home orders.
7) Promote personal hygiene. If workers do not have immediate access to soap and water for handwashing, provide alcohol-based hand rubs containing at least 60 percent alcohol.
On top of providing alcohol-based hand rubs and hand sanitizer in accessible areas all over the jobsite, construction site managers should make sure that any areas that see heavy foot traffic are thoroughly sanitized throughout the day.
8) Use Environmental Protection Agency-approved cleaning chemicals from List N or that have label claims against the coronavirus.
For a full list of products that meet the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) criteria for use against the COVID-19 virus, you can read more here. Furthermore, always make sure to follow the label directions when using any EPA-registered disinfectant.
9) To the extent tools or equipment must be shared, provide and instruct workers to use alcohol-based wipes to clean tools before and after use. When cleaning tools and equipment, workers should consult manufacturer recommendations for proper cleaning techniques and restrictions.
Along with providing soap, disinfectants, and thoroughly cleaning all common areas, contractors need to also monitor the use of tools and equipment and ensure that these resources are being thoroughly cleaned. Read more tips in our article focused on Creating a Crisis Management Plan for COVID-19.
10) Keep in-person meetings (including toolbox talks and safety meetings) as short as possible, limit the number of workers in attendance, and use social distancing practices.
Although some in-person meetings for essential workers on the jobsite are necessary (so long as they comply with social distancing guidelines), it’s best to conduct any meetings that aren’t related to critical operations through a video conferencing system like Zoom. Even construction companies can transition some aspects of their operations to telework.
11) Clean and disinfect portable jobsite toilets regularly. Hand sanitizer dispensers should be filled regularly. Frequently-touched items (i.e., door pulls and toilet seats) should be disinfected.
Along with performing these important tasks, contractors should keep up to date on the latest health and safety standards updates and review the OSHA standards that apply to COVID-19.
12) Encourage workers to report any safety and health concerns.
With increased concerns of the health and safety of workers, reporting systems are crucial right now. Along with having a reliable onsite reporting process, construction companies need to have a point of contact for any workers that fear they were infected away from the jobsite. Click here to read more about OSHA’s record keeping requirements with regards to COVID-19 cases on the jobsite.
If you would like to speak with an OSHA attorney, 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.