Construction Resumes in Three States
Construction crews in three states will be heading back to work after governors rolled back the ruling that members of the construction industry must adhere to the shelter-in-place rules. Michigan, Washington and Pennsylvania all have orders taking effect within the next 10 days that will allow most residential and commercial construction projects to resume after work in each state was sidelined for more than a month while communities battled the spread of COVID-19. In each state, some construction work had been allowed to continue, namely government or infrastructure projects and work on hospitals and affordable housing.
For the job sites that will be reopening, each state has issued guidelines for how work must be conducted. When construction work resumes in Pennsylvania on May 1, for example, it will be limited to occurring between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. only Monday through Friday with the exception of emergency repairs. In addition, the number of workers will be limited based on the type of project and the square footage of the space, with just four workers permitted at a one- or two-family residence and four workers allowed in commercial construction sites of under 2,000 square feet. Local municipalities may add other requirements to construction work as officials deem necessary to control the spread of the coronavirus.
In Michigan when work starts again on May 7, contractors are planning to implement a series of best practices as outlined by OSHA and the Construction Industry Safety Coalition, which calls for things like limiting the size and duration of face-to-face meetings, completely eliminating any tool-sharing practices, and providing sanitation stations plus protective gear that will reduce the number of germs spread.
And in Washington, some construction sites may reopen so long as an appointed COVID-19 site supervisor is present and personal protective equipment is available to each crew member. Also, workers must adhere to the six-foot-distance guideline and the construction company must provide sanitation facilities and a posted safety plan. However, for the time being, work in Washington may only resume on projects already underway while new construction projects will remain on hold.
Once these states resume construction, there will only be three states left that still classify construction as nonessential: New Jersey, New York and Vermont. However, with the rapidly fluctuating environment caused by the spread of the pandemic, there is no telling when or how the status of any state might change.