Reading about COVID-19’s impact is one thing, but when it hits home, it’s another story. Unfortunately, that has been my experience. One of my subcontractor’s employees that was working with us tested positive for the virus, which caused us to have to pause a residential hardwood resanding and refinishing project. Luckily, the homeowner was away, so we had the crew leave the jobsite so that everything could be thoroughly sanitized, and we could then safely return to work to finish the project.

I’m happy to report that everyone’s OK now, but it was certainly a scary situation. Now, more than ever, it’s critical that we keep our jobsites safe, in order to keep our businesses running and most importantly, in order to keep ourselves, our colleagues and our families safe.

INSTALL shared a timely list of tips to keep you and your jobsite safe during the pandemic. The article states: “Safety standards have always been of utmost importance in the construction industry. But now, more than ever, safety protocols are increasingly crucial as COVID-19 changes how contractors are working. In order to keep employees safe, businesses need to set up processes, procedures and risk mitigation techniques to combat the novel coronavirus.”

Keep this list handy, adhere to these tips and do your part in keeping yourself and your crew as safe as possible on the jobsite.

Tip 1: Provide the proper tools for employees to practice good hygiene.

When you are able to, provide hand washing stations that include disposable towels and touchless trash receptacles. If soap and water are unavailable, be sure to provide hand sanitizer. 

Tip 2: Practice social distancing throughout the entire jobsite.

This one can be tough, but INSTALL recommends that you limit work in occupied areas to tasks that are necessary. Take breaks in shifts of 10 people or less. Taking the stairs is encouraged, but if you must use the elevators, limit occupancy to five people or less. 

Tip 3: Ask screening questions before allowing employees on the jobsite; designate a trained and qualified individual to take employees’ temperatures

An example of key questions to ask employees are:

  • Has anyone in your household been in close contact with someone who is in the screening process or has already tested positive or diagnosed with COVID-19?
  • Have you been required by a medical professional to self-quarantine due to possible exposure to COVID-19?
  • Are you having trouble breathing or have you experienced flu-like symptoms in the past 48 hours?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, the employee should leave the jobsite. As for temperature screenings, which should be taken with a non-contact medical grade digital thermometer, if a worker has a temperature of 100.4 or higher, they should leave the jobsite as well.

Tip 4: Do not share tools, mobile devices or office supplies

This is another tough one, since many of us are used to sharing items without giving it a second thought, but it’s important that you follow this tip. All workers should have their own tools, supplies and mobile devices. In the event that anything needs to be shared, be sure to disinfect the item or items prior to each use.

Tip 5: Create a schedule to disinfect frequently touched surfaces

INSTALL recommends jobsite offices and breakrooms be cleaned at least two times a day, which can be done with disinfecting wipes. If you are not using an outside cleaning company and employees are doing the cleaning, be sure to equip them with the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) as specified by the disinfectant.

Tip 6: Do not use a common water cooler

Instead, provide individual water bottles or allow workers to bring their own water bottles.

Tip 7: Instruct workers to consider changing their clothes before returning home

In addition to keeping ourselves safe, we want to keep our families safe. Since COVID can live on fabrics for roughly 24-hours, encourage employees to change into a different set of clothes before returning home after the workday. Jobsite clothing should be washed in hot water and soap. Footwear should be specific to the jobsite and not worn at home.

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