In Florida, general contractors, construction trades, subcontractors and other construction related businesses have continued to operate during the “safer at home” orders because they were designated as essential businesses. There is also some evidence that working outside, in the sunlight may actually slow the spread of COVID. The CDC has noted that generally coronavirus survives for shorter periods at higher temperatures and higher humidity. That is good news for Floridians. However, regardless of the temperature, and place of work, all workers need to follow recognized safe practices. The Occupational Safety and Health Administrative (OSHA) recently published guidance for construction worksites. The OSHA one page information sheet is a great toolbox meeting topic to keep your workers aware of COVID-19 matters and slow the spread of the virus.
The following tips will help your company reduce the risk of exposure to the COVID-19 on its construction sites:
- Encourage workers to stay home if they are sick. Follow CDC guidelines.
- Workers with symptoms of COVID-19 should be sent home and advised to call their doctor, the county health department, or the Florida COVID-19 hotline at 1-866-779-6121. Mobile testing sites are becoming more and more available in most communities.
- Allow workers to wear face coverings over their nose and mouth to prevent them from spreading the virus.
- Document training of workers about how to properly put on, use/wear, and take off face coverings. Share the CDC Face Coverings training handout.
- Continue to use other normal measures, including personal protective equipment (PPE) needed to protect employees from other known construction job hazards
- Avoid physical contact with others and direct employees/contractors/visitors to increase personal space to at least six feet, where possible. In work trailers and common areas, workers should maintain social distancing. Put up signage to advise workers.
- Post signs and follow respiratory etiquette, including covering coughs and sneezes.
- Promote handwashing and provide alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol.
- Obtain the SDS sheet for all commercial cleaning chemicals used to kill surface germs and coronavirus.
- Shared tools or equipment should be wiped down with alcohol-based wipes before and after use. Follow any other cleaning recommendations given by the equipment manufacturers or distributors.
- 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.
- 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 regularly.
Keep checking the OSHA webpage for COVID-19 matters, to stay up to date with news and developments.