COVID-19’s Effects on Construction Safety Measures in Boston
The construction industry is experiencing a period of transition during the coronavirus pandemic. In Boston, authorities have made several changes in order to protect everyone involved. These directions from the office of Mayor Marty Walsh are specific to Boston, but it’s likely that similar adoptions will be taken into consideration across the state and the country.
Boston has declared that all construction sites must submit a COVID-19 Safety Plan and COVID-19 Safety Affidavit, which solidifies their agreement to adhere to the site safety plan. The policy will extend to all construction sites when it is safe to restart normal construction. While the specifics of these plans may vary based on the particular project or construction site conditions, all contractors will be required to provide this information with their permit applications.
The city of Boston also provided a worksheet of best practices outlining recommended policies and procedures to address several concerns. Here are a few topics that were covered:
Managers will ensure that symptomatic workers stay home to prevent contaminating others, and regular temperature checks will also take place. All deliveries and materials brought to a construction site are to be sanitized. Non-essential visitors are not permitted onsite, and employees should travel separately to their job sites. These activities will be monitored and documented by a designated safety officer whose job is to confirm that these actions take place.
Job Site Hygiene
In order to avoid disease contraction on the job, hand washing stations with hot water and soap or sanitizing solution will be easily available to all employees. Frequent cleaning of high-touch surfaces will also be required. There must be a sufficient number of toilets, trash receptacles, and clothing change areas on the job site, and each will need to be cleaned regularly.
Social Distancing on the Job
In order to protect employees, shift sizes will be altered to allow for a 6-foot separation between employees on the job site and during breaks. This may include limiting the number of trades permitted per floor/per area, and having all-hands meetings outdoors if possible.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is a vital component of disease prevention, and construction sites are expected to follow protocol. In addition to employers (?) providing suitable PPE to staff, workers must properly utilize PPE such as gloves and masks during both work and breaks.
A designated safety manager will be responsible for educating employees about these new procedures. While the contractor will implement the practices, the safety manager will provide all communications and training to the workforce.
While preventative measures are the best means of fighting the spread of COVID-19, construction sites must be well-versed in the proper actions to take in case of a potential infection onsite. This means a widespread understanding of safety procedures, as well as a clearly outlined system of response.
As the realities of COVID-19 continue to impact the way construction projects are managed, Cresa maintains constant communication with its construction partners to ensure that we are advising our clients accordingly through these challenging times. Proper communication with our partners in the field is critical for understanding the planning efforts we need to make on behalf of our clients.