CONSTRUCTION PROTOCOLS/RISK MITIGATION IN THE ERA OF COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic and the corresponding shut down of all but essential construction work in The City of New York has presented new challenges when anticipating resumption of “normal” operations.
We offer some guidance on what contractors, owners, subcontractors and vendors working in the construction industry may be faced with when jobsites re-open and work resumes.
Many owners/general contractors will begin to require affidavits from their subcontractors/vendors ensuring that they have provided COVID-19 training to their employees including protocols that must be implemented to comply with new rules. They may also require the submission of a Plan, similar to a site specific safety plan, to demonstrate their protocol for social distancing, general hygiene, decontamination procedures, training, and symptom checking. The Plan should include any increased time, cost or additional measures required to perform the contracted for services.
Permit holders will be responsible for enforcing social distancing and safety measures on their jobsites. However, contractors and subcontractors, before being permitted back to work, will likely be required to develop measures for their own employees to comply with social distancing and any other rules laid out by the governing jurisdiction.
Contractors will be responsible for working with owners and other on site trade contractors to ensure social distancing while working. Maintaining a distance of six feet from others when possible and providing tools to assist in marking out spacing when performing job tasks. Owners and construction managers will likely require that workers maintain a distance of six feet when waiting to enter turnstiles, hoists and elevators, stairs and other shared spaces.
Staggered schedules for job functions that place workers in close proximity will be required. Alternating shifts or days so that trades can stagger start and end times including breaks is one measure to be considered.
In some instances, replacing a worker with mechanical means for operations that previously required multiple workers, or erecting temporary barriers for additional protective measures such as sheet rock, plastic sheeting and plexiglass, can be utilized.
Staggering meetings and orientations should be considered. Training for all workers should include information on proper hygiene, surface/equipment/tool cleaning, and procedures on what to do if a worker feels sick.
Pertinent to new jobsite conditions will be the ability to comply with and enforce current social/health mandates.
A number of strategies can be employed to maintain social distancing and keep workers, and the public, safe:
- Take temperatures before commencing work each day.
- Require all workers to wash their hands before and after operations. Make hand sanitizer readily available on site.
- Provide appropriate safety protective equipment to include masks/ face coverings that cover the mouth and nose.
- Erect temporary barriers to keep workers separated.
- Discourage workers from sharing phones, desks, offices, tools and equipment.
- Regularly clean/disinfect shared tools and equipment where use of one’s own equipment is not possible or practicable.
- Immediately send home any symptomatic workers.
- Advise workers to immediately report COVID-19 diagnosis of themselves or a family member. Require a 14-day self-quarantine prior to allowing them to return to work.
- Close any sites in which social distancing and proper hygiene cannot be maintained or properly implemented.
The NYC Department of Buildings may inspect any site to ensure compliance with emerging orders, currently to include the following:
Resources to assist in a safe transition back to work:
French & Casey, LLP is available to assist in developing risk mitigation protocols to be implemented to ensure compliance with existing mandates and a smooth transition back to normal operations.
Contact Susan A. Romano to discuss any of the foregoing protocols or for more information. firstname.lastname@example.org 212-797-3544