The Department of Homeland Security considers construction an “essential critical infrastructure workforce.” However, all safety measures that can be taken, should be taken. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has taken the initiative and put together a detailed plan that outlines the steps that every employer and employee can take to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19.
The plan describes how to prevent worker exposure to coronavirus, protective measures to be taken on the job site, personal protective equipment and work practice controls to be used, cleaning and disinfecting procedures, and OSHA guidance on what to do if a worker becomes sick, including record-keeping requirements.
National Association of Home Builders COVID-19 Plan:
These resources are also available in Spanish, here.
Gulfshore Insurance is focused on supporting and addressing client concerns. Visit our Coronavirus Resource Center for guidance on risk management measures and resources to help manage ongoing operations.
Driver Selection – All organizations, religious or not, should have formal criteria for who will be allowed to drive on “company” business. Larger vehicles like school and transport buses may require a driver maintain a CDL, but private passenger vehicles and even 15-passenger vans do not require a special license. Having formal criteria for who can drive will help mitigate vicarious liability and punitive damages. Driver selection criteria or sometimes called “MVR criteria” include things like age of the driver, years of driving experience, and points and violations on an MVR report. Your ideal driver will have 10+ years of driving experience and no violations. Having a written list of your driver selection criteria will help the church obtain the best insurance rates possible.
15-Passenger Vans – No special license is required to drive a 15-passenger van, but that is precisely why they are so dangerous. They have a different center of gravity, handle differently from cars or minivans, and when packed with people, can have a lot of distractions. Many insurance companies simply will not insure these types of vans, or if they do, they will require that the back seat be removed thereby turning it into a 12-passenger van. Churches that own or rent vans of this size can help themselves with a couple of steps… (1) remove the back seat, or limit occupancy to 12 or less and (2) train, road test, and dedicate a specific driver that has experience with driving larger vehicles.
Hired and Non-Owned Vehicles (HNO) – Just because the church owns no vehicles doesn’t mean it has no risk. In fact, the risk of staff and volunteers driving their own vehicles or renting vehicles for church business is one of the most overlooked exposures churches have. When anyone is driving on church business, the church is at risk for that person’s actions. There is a special insurance coverage called Hired and Non-Owned Auto Liability that is designed to protect the church in case someone gets in an accident while driving on church business. This coverage would be in excess of the driver’s personal insurance. Below are some recommendations for churches looking to manage their HNO exposure:
Limit who is allowed to drive on church business and run those drivers through Driver Selection Criteria.
Require drivers carry personal insurance limits of at least $100,000 and obtain proof of their personal insurance.
Require drivers sign a Vehicle Use Agreement which includes the church’s expectations for safe driving practices.
Third Party Transport – Whenever possible, hiring a third-party transport company is recommended for longer trips. The transport company should provide not only proof of commercial insurance but also Additional Insured (AI) status and Waiver of Subrogation (WOS) on their commercial insurance policy. The AI and WOS features should be agreed to on the contract or service order they provide. AI and WOS effectively transfer any risk the church may have for the trip to the transport company. The church may still get pulled into a lawsuit but will obtain defense and coverage on the transport company’s insurance policy. Sometimes it pays to outsource.
To view our complete risk management library of articles for churches and non-profits, click here.
While OSHA specifically exempts employers from recording incidents of employees contracting common colds and the flu in the workplace, COVID-19 is not exempt, the agency noted on a newly added website providing OSHA guidance for preventing occupational exposure to the rapidly spreading virus.
The guidance, while not a standard or regulation, outlines safety standards that employers whose workers are at high risk of contracting COVID-19 should implement to remain in compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Act’s general duty clause.
The report also advises employers to develop an infectious disease preparedness and response plan, implement basic infection prevention measures and develop policies for the identification and isolation of ill individuals.
OSHA recently unveiled the top 10 violations of 2019. It was no surprise that familiar violations from the past few years crowded the list. Fall protection led the list with more than 6,000 violations, followed by more than 3,500 violations of the hazard communication standard.
Fall Protection – General Requirements – 6,010 violations. This is the ninth year in a row this Construction standard has had the most OSHA violations. Among those most cited: roofing contractors, masonry contractors, and commercial and home builders.
Hazard communication – 3,671 violations. Problems that come up the most: no hazcom program, no worker training on hazcom, and lack of safety data sheets (SDSs). Employers most cited: masonry contractors, painting and wall covering contractors, machine shops, and general contractors.
Scaffolding – 2,813 violations. Where companies are going wrong: Using cross-braces as scaffold access, not fully planking, scaffolds not on firm foundations, and no guardrails. Employers most cited: masonry contractors, roofing contractors and commercial builders.
Lockout/tagout – 2,606 violations. Companies cited don’t have LO/TO rules for specific machines, employees aren’t trained, there’s no periodic evaluation of the program, and LO/TO devices aren’t affixed. Among industries most cited: product manufacturing and sawmills.
Respiratory protection – 2,450 violations. Companies aren’t providing employees with a medical evaluation before they use respirators, they don’t have a respiratory protection program, and employees don’t receive a fit test. Most cited: Auto maintenance, masonry contractors, cut stone contractors and painting and wall covering contractors.
Ladders – 2,345 violations. Problems inspectors find most: ladders not extending at least three feet above a landing, using the wrong type of ladder, employees using the top step, and ladder structural defects. Most cited: Roofing, framing, siding and painting contractors.
Powered Industrial Trucks – 2,093 violations. Problems inspectors find most: trucks not operating in a safe manner, operators not re-evaluated every three years, no certificate of training, and trucks in unsafe condition. Most cited: warehouses, framing contractors and machine shops.
Fall protection – Training requirements – 1,773 violations. Inspectors find employees weren’t provided training, there’s no written certification, training is inadequate, and employees don’t retain training. Most cited: roofing, framing, siding, commercial and residential contractors.
Machine guarding – 1,743 violations. Employers aren’t guarding points of operation; equipment isn’t anchored properly and fan blades aren’t guarded. Most cited: machine shops and metal shops.
Personal protective equipment – eye and face protection – 1,411 violations. Workers aren’t protected from flying parts, liquid chemicals and radiant energy (welding), and there’s no side protection for eyes. Most cited: roofing, framing, masonry and siding contractors.