How COVID-19 is Changing Construction Safety Guidelines

Is OSHA Cracking Down? How Coronavirus is Changing Construction



It’s no question that the world has changed drastically in a very short amount of time.  Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, new policies in all industries have been rushed out into action, and even our very way of living has been affected. Some leaders have been proactive and successful in adapting to the changing world, while others have fought it – and are suffering the consequences.  Today we’re looking into what good leadership looks like during a global pandemic and a little bit of what that does not look like. Let’s get into it!

            It’s widely accepted that there’s four major causes of injury to construction site workers. Fittingly titled, ‘The Fatal Four’ are the cause for tens of thousands of injuries and nearly a thousand deaths per year. Falls, getting struck by an object, electrocution, and getting caught between objects are the hazards that make up this deadly family.  This year brought in a whole new player for threats on the job.  That is, of course, sickness. This time manifesting as the novel coronavirus.      On mega projects with hundreds of laborers, these sites can act as ground zero for spreading disease and viruses.  Even though you’re often outside, physical contact and intimacy is unavoidable.  This can lead to rapid exposure of a sickness to our laborers if we don’t nip it in the bud.  Adapting to safer means of working will not only help us get through this as a nation currently but will also better prepare us for any similar catastrophe we face in the future.

There’s no question whether or not new construction technology helped deal with this coronavirus… It certainly has.  Many construction companies have taken to online training programs for their newcomers.  Many have also turned to offering remote working options for secondary support such as estimators, project managers, and accountants.  It’s proving to be effective in slowing the spread of the virus without losing efficiency in the workplace.  On the field, new tech has been introduced also.  Many companies have started using health assessment checklist apps for smartphones.  Workers must go through a checklist of symptoms and if any throw up red flags that they might have coronavirus, the worker was tested and quarantined for two weeks if positive.  A more intensive solution called the WakeCap was also adapted to fit the current needs of the working world.  The WakeCap was originally invented as a way to detect when a user is nodding off while operating or near heavy machinery and alerts them to wake up and pay attention!  The WakeCap company has adapted this technology to be able to track contact between workers who tested positive for Coronavirus to see who they could have passed the virus to while they were asymptomatic.

            Others have not dealt with this issue as gracefully.  A construction company tasked with building one of Amazon’s sites in Eastern Oregon has recently had a scandal and are facing big trouble for how they’ve dealt with the pandemic.  A whistleblower who was responsible for taking the temperatures, reporting covid-19 cases, and quarantine workers has come forward saying that she was instructed to lie about temperatures and not let anyone off of work – even if they were showing all symptoms of Coronavirus.  The company is in big heat over this and could be fined very heavily.  Many laborers in the field have a sense of pride for their work that they feel they must work through any inconvenience plaguing them.  It’s the duty of leaders to make sure they know that this is not the time for that.  It must be reinforced that the best route to take when feeling any symptoms is quarantine.  That is the best action to take for the greater good of your company, co-workers, and the world. 

It’s been rumored that we’re looking at a vaccine being developed before the end of 2020.  Until then, it’s always best to play it safe. There could be dire consequences otherwise. Even once this blows over it certainly will not be the last pandemic or sickness that we’ll see. With this in mind, we have no reason not to set these precautions in place.  A conscious world will breed a healthy one and if we’re not careful the consequences of our actions can harm us all. Thank you for reading, and please follow our LinkedIn page for more updates on everything construction.