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With stay at home and shelter in place restrictions beginning to lift, construction companies are faced with difficult questions that must be addressed as they transition back to normal operations, such as: How can we protect our employees, third-parties, and projects from the disease? First and foremost, we encourage you to create a return to work action plan.
The following tips can help reduce the risk of exposure:
- Complete a task-based risk assessment/mapping of the project site to determine best strategies for social distancing of at least 6 feet, and ensure staff have face coverings.
- 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.
- 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.
- Eliminate non-essential visits, such as job tours, vendor demos, etc.
- 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.
If an employee tests positive for COVID-19 there are actions you can take to protect other employees, clients, and your business:
- Cleaning and disinfecting should be done immediately by trained personnel and they must wear appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including face coverings and dispose of gloves after use and wash hands and face when complete.
- Visibly dirty surfaces shall be cleaned using a detergent or soap and water PRIOR to disinfection.
- For disinfection, diluted household bleach solutions, alcohol solutions with at least 70 percent alcohol, and EPA-registered disinfectants on List-N should be effective. The CDC recommended bleach solution mixture for cleaning can be found here.
- Consider wearable technology such as proximity devices worn on hard hats or wrist bands to monitor employee physical distancing and tracing of contacts.
- PPE: for close contact activities that cannot adjust for physical distancing, consider providing enhanced PPE or a face shield with a face covering while fully considering all the potential OSHA requirements.
For further guidance, read through the AIHA Returning to Work: Construction Environment guide.
Please note: Construction companies and vendors should continually monitor global (World Health Organization WHO), federal (CDC), state, and local guidelines for changes in recommendations, disinfection strategies, worker protections and other best management practices.
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