What Laws and Requirements Must Construction Workers Follow During COVID-19?
According to the latest lockdown rules in many jurisdictions, building sites are considered essential work. That said, employers must follow a set of government guidelines to keep construction workers safe during the pandemic. Here are some regulations to be aware of:
Safe Working Environments
The government recommends certain best practices to maintain healthy business operations for construction workers during COVID-19. At each job site, there should be a designated health and safety officer who is responsible for overseeing concerns related to COVID-19. At each worksite, there should be frequent handwashing and cleaning of surfaces.
Social Distancing in the Workplace
Social distancing guidelines must be adhered to as much as possible in the workplace, and specific practices must be followed when social distancing is impossible. Time spent on non-distanced work should be kept to a minimum; employees should work back-to-back or side-to-side, rather than face-to-face, wherever possible. Additionally, employers should organize teams so that the number of people each person has contact with is limited. Where possible, employers should implement screens or barriers to separate workers from each other. If social distancing guidelines cannot be followed for a certain task, employers should consider how necessary it is for the business to operate.
Arriving at and Leaving Work
As much as possible, employers should keep the number of people on site at any given time to a minimum. Staggering arrival and departure times can help with this. You can also set up parking and bike racks so that people can arrive at and leave from different locations. Providing more entry and exit points for the worksite, and using one-way traffic flows, can also facilitate social distancing. In the case of corporate vehicles, seats should be left empty between occupants to facilitate social distancing. Entry and exit points should not involve any touch-based devices.
Moving Around Worksites
All nonessential trips to building sites should be discouraged. On essential trips, employers should aim to reduce movement as much as possible. Smart team organization can help with this. As much as possible, employers should reduce job rotation and equipment rotation. In other words: Rather than having each team member carry out multiple tasks in one day, each team member should focus on a single task with the same equipment all day. Again, one-way traffic flows around the worksite can help people avoid coming into contact with each other on walkways. Such a flow be easily implemented using signs or markings on the ground. These markings can also illustrate social distancing measurements. Separating working zones can also keep different worker groups as physically separated as possible.
Employers have a duty to reduce workplace risk as much as possible and take all necessary precautions. Any workers or visitors who feel unwell should not enter the site. By law, employers cannot require a self-isolating employee to come to work. Those individuals who are classified as clinically extremely vulnerable are strongly advised to stay home from work.
This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.
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