5 Tips for Returning to Work on Construction Sites
Kevin Jefferson October 7, 2020
The COVID-19 virus has entered our lives and shows no intention of leaving anytime soon. As we all try to adjust to the new normal, here are some tips that can make returning to a construction worksite go as seamlessly as possible.
Establish and Maintain an Environment Based on Trust
A professional team that focuses on unity and trust can create an environment capable of responding to any crisis quickly and protecting both the workers and the clients. If people trust each other, they will be able to speak freely and share information to save lives. People who work as a team and respect others’ wellbeing are more likely to appreciate the general CDC-recommended guidelines:
To stay home if they are not feeling well.
To alert the higher ups in case of possible exposure to the virus.
To practice proper precautions to avoid exposing anyone else to a health risk.
If you manage to get everyone on the same page, it will make it relatively easy for you to create a plan of operations that would reduce contamination risks for your workers and the community.
Establish Streamlined Channels of Communication
Now, perhaps more than ever, clear communication is of the highest importance. Keep a steady flow of information going between your project managers, trade partners and clients. Designate a person who would be in charge of communication on each of the project sites.
Put up posters that detail how to prevent the spread of COVID-19 throughout the sites. Ensure that all the info must be from creditable and validated sources such as the Centers for Disease Control , Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Department of Labor .
Reduce the amount of unnecessary information by ensuring that subcontractors and sub-tier subcontractors do not send mass communications to anyone who is not their direct employee.
Have People Work From Home as Much as Possible
Social distancing and gathering limits rules are much easier to obey if fewer people are on any working site. That is why you should reduce the number of people at any one location.
Each project manager should determine which on-site personnel have job functions that can be completed offsite. Anyone whose presence is not necessary on the site should work from home. Doing so is going to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Obey Social Distancing and Limited Gatherings Rules
Many health officials, such as the CDC and the World Health Organization , have worked together to establish a strict set of guidelines that must be respected in order to stop the spread of coronavirus. These include social distancing of at least six feet and limiting gatherings to no more than 10 people. The restrictions apply to:
Work areas, both indoor and outdoor. What you could do is add different shifts to further separate work times, thus reducing the number of workers present at the site at any given time. Also, consider dividing areas into zones, with limited access to each zone. Finally, give different working crews different break times to make sure they don’t mingle during the breaks.
Meetings. Try to conduct video or online meetings whenever possible. If they must be held in person, find a room large enough that it’s possible to conform to the six feet rule, or have the meeting outside.
The same set of rules that applies to the meeting areas goes for the break areas as well. This means social distancing and a maximum of 10 people in the area at the same time.
Offices and trailers. Try to have just one person in each office to minimize the risks. Stop people from gathering in the central area. Put up the COVID-related posters in the shared spaces to remind them of the dangers.
With those rules in mind, don’t forget to have enough cleaning supplies, hand sanitizers and face masks at your disposal. Consider providing your workers with reusable cotton face masks, since they are a much more cost-effective solution than the disposable ones.
Be Prepared for Positive COVID-19 Cases
No matter the precautions you take, there are still high chances that someone will test positive for COVID-19. When that happens, have your team be ready to immediately remove that person from the site and notify the supervisor and the site manager.
The management should suspend all the work at that site and quarantine all the people who have been in contact with the infected individual. Next, they should complete the COVID-19 tracing form and ensure that the entire area has been adequately cleaned and sterilized. The final step should be making the subcontractors and clients aware of the new situation while respecting the anonymity and identity of the impacted employees.
Some additional sanitary measures that have already become a part of our second nature by now, such as regularly washing hands with soap and water and cleaning the worksite daily, can go far when it comes to stopping coronavirus from spreading.
Kevin Jefferson has gone through an extensive home renovation with his son, which he has both thoroughly enjoyed, and dreaded every morning. He is now the proud owner of half his dream house (the other half has been waiting for spring). You can read more of Kevin’s work on PlainHelp .