COVID-19’s impact goes beyond the debilitating effects on the human host; it is also having a tremendous impact on our industry and economy. Its reach has already proven far and wide, to varying degrees depending on the industry. Building and infrastructure construction, being necessary functions, continue, though that is not to say that we are operating “business as usual”. The Coronavirus has had a profound impact on the way we do business and the way we perform construction. Safety has always been a top priority, and with the introduction of the coronavirus, a new threat has entered the field. And, just as hard hats are worn to protect against head trauma, unique and innovative protective measures are being implemented to prevent and protect against the spread of the coronavirus.
Office employees that can are currently working from home, relying on phone calls, emails, and telecommuting to coordinate work with one another. In-person contact has been limited greatly through these efforts, minimizing any opportunities for the spread of the virus.
The actual construction of a new facility, however, is not a job that can be handled remotely, so our field staff and trades still need to be working on site and in proximity to each other. We have introduced several measures which can be very effective in our effort to provide a safe work environment for our employees:
- Cleaning and sanitation on site have been ramped up greatly, with hand sanitizer and sanitation wipes available to all personnel on site.
- Facemasks and respirators, which were already being used on sites for certain situations before the virus, have become considerably more prevalent across our job sites.
- Tools are no longer shared, and if tools need to be shared for any reason, they are cleaned in between use.
- If equipment is shared, such as loading or excavating equipment, a cleaning/sanitizing protocol has also been established.
- While employees previously would congregate in the construction trailers for lunch, they are now asked to avoid having more than a couple present at a time with social distancing, or instead opt for an outdoor lunch with the same distancing requirement
- We are staggering work environments to limit the number of people occupying one space in individual areas of the projects. Where once multiple trades would have been working in collaboration within a space, now each trade must be phased in, do its work, and then leave for the next trade to move in.
All our efforts share one thing in common: they have been enacted in an effort to limit our workers’ and subcontractors’ exposure to each other and thus reduce the risk of exposure to and spreading of the coronavirus. Through consistent effort and careful planning, we can continue working on our projects and stay safe while doing it.