Though many carry a “tough as nails” persona to the job site, the reality is that virtually all construction workers take health and safety very seriously, particularly now with the spread of COVID-19. In years past, safety at work focused on personal safety – the use of harnesses, appropriate machine handling, etc. But now workers have far more to worry about when they come and go from the job site – perhaps elderly parents or a child or spouse with a compromised immune system, and the degree to which an employer will provide for their safety through hygiene rules can make the difference for whether they stay on the job or leave in order to protect the ones they love.
The onus is on employers to create a safe working environment, though everyone agrees that a construction site with social distancing, regular handwashing, and surface disinfecting routines is a tall order. Still, states that have allowed construction work to continue have the expectation that an effort toward worker safety is earnestly made, and failure to do so will cause job sites to be shut down as fast as restaurants and movie theaters were when the coronavirus was first upon us.
While it is unquestionably challenging, steps towards protecting workers and clients on a construction project are not impossible. For a job of any size, no matter how small, contractors need to provide:
- Hand washing stations with soap – along with the expectation that they be used frequently. Construction materials are notoriously hard to disinfect, and keeping workers’ hands clean will be half the battle of keeping them well.
- Social distancing rules with real protocols and expectations that they be followed. If you follow any construction-related blogs, you will find too many cases where workers acknowledge there a sense that there is no way for them to do their jobs in an efficient manner while six feet apart, so the “rules” are posted with an obligatory nod and a shrug from workers on the site.
- Facilities that keep workers from coming in contact with extra people or too many of their colleagues at once. A construction toilet rental, like the kind that come attached to a Redbox+ elite construction dumpster rental, are absolutely essential rather than expecting workers to use public restrooms down the road or the private toilet of the client. Likewise, breakroom spaces need to be ample and sparsely filled at any given time to allow for social distancing.
- Face masks – for all workers, all the time. There are mixed opinions regarding whether the wearer is protecting himself or those around him, but either way, even a construction dust mask is adding a layer of protection against germs that otherwise doesn’t exist between people sharing the same space.
These four simple measures aren’t hard, but they do require a commitment from leadership to see that they are enacted and enforced. Given that the very lives of workers depend on it, not to mention the lives of their loved ones, should make compliance a no-brainer for a company that values its crew.