(This Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) blog is reprinted with permission from the authors and from the law firm of Greenberg Traurig, LLP.)
We have issued several GT Alerts on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) response to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Our first Alert, published Jan. 31, 2020, provided general information on OSHA requirements and steps for employers to consider as COVID-19 began to appear in the United States, before work shutdown and shelter orders were in place.
The second alert, published March 25, 2020, provided guidance for essential workers. The third alert, published April 14, 2020, examined whether an employee’s COVID-19 case is work-related and recordable. This fourth alert covers recently published guidance provided by OSHA for the construction industry, “COVID-19 Guidance for the Construction Workforce.”
List of COVID-19 Recommendations
Although OSHA targeted the construction industry, this concise list will be valuable for any employer:
- Encourage workers to stay home if they are sick.
- Allow workers to wear masks over their nose and mouth to prevent them from spreading the virus.
- Continue to use other normal control measures, including personal protective equipment (PPE), necessary to protect workers from other job hazards associated with construction activities.
- Advise workers to avoid physical contact with others and direct employees/contractors/visitors to increase personal space to at least six feet, where possible. Where work trailers are used, all workers should maintain social distancing while inside the trailers.
- Train workers how to properly put on, use/wear, and take off protective clothing and equipment.
- Encourage respiratory etiquette, including covering coughs and sneezes.
- Promote personal hygiene. If workers do not have immediate access to soap and water for handwashing, provide alcohol-based hand rubs containing at least 60 percent alcohol.
- Use Environmental Protection Agency-approved cleaning chemicals from List N or that have label claims against the coronavirus.
- To the extent tools or equipment must be shared, provide and instruct workers to use alcohol-based wipes to clean tools before and after use. When cleaning tools and equipment, workers should consult manufacturer recommendations for proper cleaning techniques and restrictions.
- 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.
- Encourage workers to report any safety and health concerns.
For more information, visit www.osha.gov/coronavirus or call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742). For more information and updates on the developing COVID-19 situation, visit GT’s Health Emergency Preparedness Task Force: Coronavirus Disease 2019.
Authors: Michael G. Murphy P.E., +1 407.999.2509, firstname.lastname@example.org and Michael T. Taylor, +1 703.749.1387, email@example.com