A new OSHA web page for construction industry employers and workers provides guidance for reducing the risk of workplace exposure to the coronavirus.

The page contains recommendations for employers whose staff work in the construction trades, including carpentry, iron working, plumbing, electrical, HVAC, utility construction, and earth moving.

The guidance is designed to alert employers to changing outbreak conditions, including as they relate to community spread of the virus, and testing availability.

While OSHA notes "this guidance is not a standard or regulation, and it creates no new legal obligations," the information is intended to "assist employers in providing a safe and healthful workplace."

Exposure Risks

The site describes construction work tasks and their associated exposure risk levels.

For example, any task that allows employees to remain at least six feet apart and involves little contact with the public, visitors, or customers is considered low risk.

But medium risk is a job that requires workers to be within 6 feet of one another, customers, visitors, or the public.

"Conducting a job hazard analysis can help you to determine whether work activities require close contact—within six feet—between workers and customers, visitors, or other members of the public," OSHA advises.

"When a job hazard analysis identifies activities with higher exposure risks, and those activities are not essential, consider delaying them until they can be performed safely, such as when appropriate infection prevention measures can be implemented or once community transmission subsides."

Guidance

The guidance includes information on:

  • Using physical barriers, such as walls, closed doors, or plastic sheeting, to separate workers
  • Keeping in-person meetings—such as toolbox and safety talks—as short as possible, limiting the workers in attendance, and practicing social distancing
  • Assessing indoor construction sites for potential exposures and circumstances in the work environment before workers enter
  • Requesting that shared spaces in homes where construction is taking place, or other construction areas in occupied buildings, have good airflow
  • Staggering work schedules—such as alternating workdays or extra shifts—to reduce the number of employees on a job site at any given time and ensure distancing.

For more information, contact CBIA's Phillip Montgomery (860.244.1900).