COVID-19 Home Construction Job Site Practices
All contractors should incorporate COVID-19 transmission and prevention into all job hazard analyses (JHAs) and pre-task safety planning for all aspects of the work. This tool is provided solely as a guideline for contractors and is not to be relied upon to prevent the spread or transmission of COVID-19, or prevent a safety violation from being issued by a jurisdictional authority. This is not legal advice. Contractors should continually evaluate the specific hazards at their job sites along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations to determine the most appropriate job hazard analysis for the project/task as it relates to the spread and/or transmission of COVID-19.
Worker Personal Responsibilities
- Employees need to take steps to protect themselves. Refer to CDC guideline: How to Protect Yourself.
- If employees have symptoms of acute respiratory illness (i.e., fever, cough, shortness of breath), they must stay home and not come to work until free of symptoms for at least 72 hours, without the use of medicine, or as recommended by the CDC. Refer to CDC guideline: What To Do if You Are Sick.
- Employees must notify their supervisors and stay home if they are sick. They must consult medical attention if they develop symptoms of acute respiratory illness. Refer to CDC guideline: What To Do if You Are Sick.
- Work in occupied areas should be limited to only those tasks that are strictly necessary.
- Limit physical contact with others. Direct employees to increase personal space (to at least 6 feet, where possible).
- When possible, limit out-of-office meetings and replace them with phone or online meetings.
- Take breaks and lunch in shifts to reduce the size of the group in the lunch area at any one time to less than 10 people.
- Subcontractor foremen and project managers should communicate with their general contractors about prohibiting large gatherings (currently no more than 10 people) on the job site, such as the all-hands meeting and all-hands lunches.
General Job Site/ Office Practices
- Employers should reference the CDC’s Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers. Employers should check CDC recommendations frequently and update JHAs and safety plans accordingly.
- Employers should consider designating a representative to monitor for signs of illness in the workplace, and if someone is showing symptoms, ask them to leave. They should NOT be allowed to enter any occupied area before leaving.
- Employers should consider designating a representative to take employees’ temperatures with a digital forehead thermometer that is disinfected appropriately between applications. Note that some people with COVID-19 may not have a fever, so this should not be the only means of detection.
- If an employee is well but has a family member at home with COVID-19, they should notify their supervisor. Refer to CDC guidance for how to conduct a risk assessment.
- If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, inform fellow employees of possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace, but maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). Ask the affected employee to identify those other employees whom he/she came into contact with before the employee departs. Employees who worked in close proximity (3- to 6-feet) to a coworker with confirmed COVID-19 should also be sent home and referred to CDC guidance for how to conduct a risk assessment.
- Attendance at safety meetings should be communicated verbally and the foreman/superintendent will sign in each attendee. Contractors should not pass around a sign-in sheet or mobile device (iPad, tablet, or mobile phone) to confirm attendance.
- iPad and mobile device use should be limited to a single user.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Gloves: Gloves should be worn at all times while on site. The type of glove worn should be appropriate to the task. If gloves are not typically required for the task, then any type of glove is acceptable, including latex gloves.
- Eye protection: Eye protection should be worn all times while on site.
- The CDC is currently not recommending that healthy people wear face masks. On March 17, 2020, the government asked all construction companies to donate N95 face masks to local hospitals and forego future orders for the time being. Contractors should continue to provide and direct employees to wear face masks if required by the work.
Sanitation and Cleanliness
- Promote frequent and thorough hand washing with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds. Employers should also provide hand sanitizer when hand washing facilities are not available. Refer to CDC guideline: When and How to Wash Your Hands.
- All workers should wash hands often, especially before eating, smoking, or drinking, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. Workers should refrain from touching their face.
- All sites should have hand washing stations readily available to all workers on site. If you have a large site, get a hand washing station from your portable job site toilet provider.
- Providing hand sanitizer is acceptable in the interim between availability of hand washing facilities.
- All workers should wash hands before and after entering any unit, as well as regularly and periodically throughout the day.
- Some job sites may have access to hot water for hand washing. If this is an option, please get permission from the facility owner to use their sink and disinfect frequently.
- If on a remote project, fill an Igloo-type water cooler with water (hot water, if available) and label “hand washing only.” This is a good option for vehicles as well. The CDC has posters and fact sheets available for posting.
- Subcontractor foremen and project managers shall communicate with their general contractor as to what steps the general contractor is taking to provide adequate sanitary/handwashing facilities on the project.
- Disinfect frequently touched surfaces within the workplace multiple times each day. Refer to CDC guideline: Clean & Disinfect.
- Disinfectant wipes should be available and used to wipe down any surfaces (doorknobs, keyboards, remote controls, desks) that are commonly touched periodically each day.
- Portable job site toilets should be cleaned by the leasing company at least twice per week (disinfected on the inside). Double check that hand sanitizer dispensers are filled—if not, fill them. Frequently touched items (i.e., door pulls and toilet seats) should be disinfected frequently, ideally after each use.
- Job site offices/trailers and break/lunchrooms must be cleaned at least twice per day.
- Employees performing cleaning will be issued proper PPE, such as nitrile gloves and eye or face protection as needed.
- Maintain Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) of all disinfectants on site.
- Employers should provide tissues and encourage employees to cover their noses and mouths with a tissue (or elbow or shoulder if a tissue is not available) when coughing or sneezing. Wash your hands after each time you cough, sneeze, or blow your nose, and any time before touching your face or food. Refer to CDC guideline: Coughing & Sneezing.
- Any trash from the trailers or the job site should be changed frequently by someone wearing gloves. After changing the trash, the employee should throw the gloves away and wash their hands.
Job Site Visitors
- Restrict the number of visitors to the job site, including the trailer or office.
- All visitors should be screened in advance. If the visitor can answer “yes” to any of the following questions (without identifying which question applies), the visitor will not be permitted to access the facility.
- Have you been asked to self-quarantine since December 2019?
- Have you been in close contact with any person(s) who has been asked to self-quarantine since December 2019?
- Have you experienced a recent onset of any illness-related symptoms, such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath?
- Have you traveled outside of North America in the past 14 days?
- Have you been in close contact with any person(s) who have traveled outside of North America in the last 14 days?
- Have you been in close contact with any person(s) who has been diagnosed with COVID-19?
Workers Entering Occupied Buildings and Homes
Many contractors and service technicians perform construction and maintenance activities within occupied homes, office buildings, and other establishments. Although these are not large job sites, these work locations present their own unique hazards with regards to COVID-19 exposures. Plumbers, electricians, and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) technicians are examples of these types of workers. All such workers should evaluate the specific hazards when determining best practices related to COVID-19.
- Require the customer to clean and sanitize the work area prior to the workers’ arrival on site.
- Technicians should sanitize the work areas themselves upon arrival, throughout the workday, and immediately before departure. Refer to CDC guideline: Clean & Disinfect.
- Require customers to keep household pets away from work area.
- Ask that occupants keep a personal distance of 10 feet at minimum.
- Do not accept payments on site (no cash or checks exchanged). Require electronic payments over the phone or online.
- Workers should wash hands immediately before starting and after completing the work. Refer to CDC guideline: When and How to Wash Your Hands.
HBA Builder Members: In addition, the HBA is in contact with the various municipalities concerning inspections. At this time, we have been told that inspections plan to continue. Please alert me as quickly as possible if you run into any challenges so that we may help resolve the situation.