Safety practices for the construction site during the COVID-19 pandemic
Friday, September 18, 2020
To safeguard themselves against financial losses and ensure their business stays afloat, contractors often invest in contractors insurance. Nowadays, they have to protect themselves against another unseen threat — COVID-19.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has idled many construction companies, a few construction projects have been deemed essential businesses. However, everyone involved in the projects has to follow best practices to protect themselves from exposure to the virus.
Understandably, dependable contractors want to prove they can work safely and avert the spread of COVID-19 as they provide much-needed income and support the nation's critical infrastructure. After all, the construction industry employs close to 11.2 million people. And that’s in the United States alone.
Construction Safety: Best Practices
Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers discovered that coronavirus-bearing droplets of various sizes could travel as far as 23 to 27 feet from their hosts after emission through a sneeze or cough. Evidence also suggests that the virus can stay active for many hours on surfaces like tools, counters, and doorknobs.
Those factors highlight the critical importance of ensuring physical distancing among all workers and employees. In line with this, contractors and owners need to adopt and implement physical distancing protocols and post details of the said protocol on the site.
COVID-19 safety practices need to be incorporated into task hazard assessments (THA) and job briefings. THAs should also determine if a single employee can carry out a task, and if not, what type of personal protective equipment (PPE) can help ensure everyone's safety.
Work schedules can be modified by staggering shifts or alternate days of work. Implementing dedicated shifts can also dramatically reduce the number of employees on the site at any given time. Breaks should also be designed in a way that minimizes interactions. Nonessential personnel should be allowed to work from home whenever possible.
Typical behaviors among workers should be modified to protect them. For instance, conventional contact greetings like fist bumps and handshakes have to be eliminated. Also, workers should be required to park at a safe distance from each other. Ridesharing should also be discouraged. If employees need to be bussed, they should be seated a seat apart.
When possible, meetings should be conducted online or via a conference call. If in-person meetings are required, refer to the guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and limit the gathering to less than ten people. Ensure everyone is at least six feet apart.
Management should adopt a zero-tolerance policy for working when sick. Sick workers should be encouraged to stay home and self-quarantine or see a medical professional when required. Safety personnel and supervisors should also be alerted of the common symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, shortness of breath, and coughing.
During these challenging times, it is also essential to check on the mental health of workers. Necessary steps, like asking them how they are feeling and how their family is doing, will show that you genuinely care. To increase compliance and awareness, it would also be a good idea to set up a "good catch" program where workers that follow safety protocols are lauded.
Preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace will have a better chance of succeeding when there is complete cooperation from everyone. All workers and employees should also be encouraged to stay vigilant and strictly follow safety protocols to protect themselves and their loved ones.
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