April 3, 2020

Protecting field crews from coronavirus

Everyday, construction workers across Colorado head out to maintain the safety, sanitation and critical operation of our residences and office buildings. The state of Colorado realizes the importance of the work performed by electricians, plumbers, builders and other professionals who provide these necessary services, and has deemed them "essential workers."

On a regular day, employers take care to ensure their team has the equipment they need to protect themselves. Now, however, an extra layer of precaution is needed to ensure workers' health and safety.

Here are considerations that all Colorado employers should be aware of as they send their team out into the field.

Maintain social distancing

  • Since construction workers are still entering homes and working on job sites with others, they should be reminded of new guidelines to stay at least six feet apart from coworkers and clients. (While you should never compromise safety when more than one person is needed to perform a certain task, make every effort to maintain adequate distance.)
  • Stagger shifts, as well as breaks and lunches, to keep groups to a maximum of 10.
  • While social distancing rules remain in place, it's best to hold your safety meetings virtually or send reminders via text or email rather than gathering the team together.

Promote extensive hygiene practices

  • The good news is that most workers have an extra layer of protection with the personal protective equipment (PPE) — such as gloves and face shields — that they wear on a regular basis. Remind them to wipe these items down regularly.
  • Make sure each employee has their own PPE and that it's properly marked and stored separately.
  • Remind your crew of handwashing protocol. Provide alcohol-based hand sanitizer in the event hot water and soap aren't readily available.
  • Avoid sharing tools if you can, and disinfect all supplies and equipment, including steering wheels and high-touch areas in vehicles, between uses and after every shift.
  • Designate one person to sign people in or fill out paperwork to avoid extra hands touching pens, forms, clipboards and devices.
  • Have employees bring individual water bottles rather than use a shared cooler.

Keep tabs on your workers' well-being

  • Monitor workers for signs of COVID-19, such as coughing, shortness of breath, fatigue and fever.
  • Encourage workers to stay home if they are sick.
  • If any workers test positive for COVID-19, remind them they must remain away from the job site until a medical doctor has cleared them.

Finally, keep the lines of communication open

One of the biggest challenges in the current environment is a lack of social interaction, although it is necessary to maintain health and safety. But employers can go a long way toward bridging that gap and keeping the team engaged with encouraging emails and texts to help keep everyone's spirits up.

After all, we're all in this together, and health and safety is everyone's responsibility.

Need more information? Browse the Associated General Contractors of America’s webpage, and access our latest COVID-19 resources.