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Even though times have changed, one item remains top priority for all companies affected by the global pandemic: safety. COVID-19 has sparked new safety precautions for frontline workers, businesses, the general public and so many more, and has showcased just how crucial safety is.

This unique experience has given companies another opportunity to continue leading in health and safety, both in our own communities and throughout the industry. 

Although a focus on safety is always important in the construction industry, companies actively working on essential project sites during the COVID-19 crisis must continue work while helping to flatten the curve, implementing additional precautions, standards and processes to ensure they remain in line with compliance regulations. 

Below are a few recommended critical safety measures company leaders should consider during the pandemic.

Communicate Critical Projects During COVID-19 

Due to the nature of providing essential projects, many construction companies are critical workforce providers in their markets. As the industry continues with essential operations, contractors should consider enforcing strict policies and guidelines to keep employees, trade partners and customers safe. 

Policies include project site engineering controls, worker density restrictions, the cancellation of non-essential trade work or flexible leave. 

Communicating critical work to local communities can also give peace of mind. It is helpful to develop signage, statements or online resources so the local community knows why work is continuing and what is being done to maintain the highest caliber of safety for all. 

Change Safety Standards

Construction is no stranger to danger. What contractors do requires work in close quarters with environmental changes evolving by the minute. It is important to continuously evaluate programs, procedures, equipment and enforcement mechanisms that keep everyone safe. Even if your area has a great record for construction safety, the COVID-19 crisis has showcased blind spots. As such, it may be prudent to step back and evaluate what needs to be addressed and changed during this global pandemic.

Work With Partners and Industry Experts 

Now is a great time to use your networks to collaborate and share best practices. The pandemic has allowed contractors to address the weaknesses in safety protocol as an industry and has provided the opportunity to be that much stronger when facing similar situations in the future. EV Construction, for example, has compiled information and resources on the virus for the benefit of other contractors such as templates, example plans and guidelines.

Numerous industries are implementing and communicating new measures that are reflective of COVID-19’s unique nature. Recommended processes include working with industry partners, other general contractors and trade contractors, as well as businesses outside the industry, to actively connect on points of concern, see what others are doing, as well as review what worked and what did not. As this is uncharted territory for all, communication is key. 

COVID-19 has also proven just how quickly misinformation is posted and spread across various channels. When looking for resources and updates, defer to health authorities like the CDC and local health departments. 

Prepare for the Worst 

No plan is a plan to fail. Diseases vary greatly and responses to outbreaks are all unique—COVID-19 is no different. Work to develop a positive illness response plan to know the steps and precautions to take if needed. 

A template plan should include:

  • How employees who have tested positive communicate with their supervisor(s) and HR contacts
  • Expert guidelines and suggestions from local health authorities on the specific illness the plan addresses
  • Measures that those who were exposed to a positive employee can take

Be careful not to give medical advice, rather, offer guidance on how to limit exposure and how to direct an employee to the right medical care. Teams should work to create a template that can be quickly modified to address current situations.  

Create a Clear Communications Channel 

In tandem with a communications plan, developing a clear communications channel is just as vital. A basic plan should outline communication channels for employees, identify decision-making authorities and modify policies like corporate travel and remote work during a communicable illness situation.

Make sure to clarify and reinforce anti-discrimination language and confidentiality policies. Plans can be used continually and should outline the general response your company will have to any communicable disease event.

With each passing day, there are unknowns that lay ahead. The construction industry must remain committed to keeping everyone safe and healthy until COVID-19 is no longer a threat. 

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