As the northern hemisphere prepares to spend another spring fighting the spread of COVID-19, public works officials in Los Angeles County are busy updating regulations and guidelines for area residents and local businesses. Among them are existing guidelines for construction sites across the region.
While the majority of the information consists of general health and safety protocols in the fight to suppress the spread of the virus, some of the advice is specific to the construction industry. That means that, in addition to general labor experience and OSHA certification, construction site workers and managers will need to be up-to-date on best practices. Failure to do so could lead to delays and cost overruns.
Here’s a breakdown of L.A. County’s guidelines for construction projects during the COVID-19 pandemic:
Designate a COVID-19 Supervisor
Public Works officials recommend having a dedicated compliance officer on-site at all times. Described as a “COVID-19 Supervisor”, he or she is tasked with enforcing health-related protocols.
Recognize high-risk areas and situations
Certain areas and situations represent elevated health risks compared to others. Site supervisors are expected to identify these hotspots and take appropriate measures to reduce the chances of viral transmission.
Provide ample signage
Similar to signage meant to express physical safety precautions, construction sites across Los Angeles County should have signs reminding workers to wash their hands, maintain appropriate social distancing, and wear masks when working indoors in close proximity to others. These signs should be in Spanish as well as English.
Discourage shared use of tools and equipment
Since this rule is probably difficult if not impossible to practically enforce, construction site personnel are encouraged to disinfect tools and equipment prior to sharing them with others. Wear gloves at all times and avoid touching your face after handling shared resources.
Maintain a log of workers and visitors
By keeping track of who’s coming and going, construction site managers can minimize the spread of disease and prevent unnecessary delays. That’s because, in the event someone who’s been on the site tests positive, they can easily narrow down the list of potentially exposed personnel. In doing so, they prevent non-exposed workers from mingling with those who are while also acting to keep the project from completely shutting down due to one or two infections.
These protocols are meant to slow the spread of viral infection. However, there’s a practical business reason for following the county’s guidelines for construction sites: cost. Failure to adhere to health and safety protocols can lead to fines, lawsuits, revoked licenses, and possibly jail time. That amounts to money lost and money spent. Besides, refusing to take public health seriously is a rotten thing to do as a person.
Once the vaccines become readily available to the general public, construction site supervisors are encouraged to schedule employee vaccinations as soon as possible. With vaccination sites cropping up across the county and more on the way, doing so should be no problem by the time summer rolls around.
It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since the pandemic first struck the United States. As Southern California and the rest of the country prepares to go through another spring of social distancing, finding safe things to do, and mask-wearing, let’s hope it’s the last one!