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COVID-19 pandemic: NABTU, CPWR create infection control guidance for construction sites

Photo: John Davis/iStockphoto

Washington — In the absence of an emergency temporary standard on infectious disease from OSHA amid the COVID-19 pandemic, North America’s Building Trades Unions and CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training have developed national guidance on infectious disease exposure control practices for construction sites.

Released April 27, the guidance recommends employers create an exposure control plan that includes designating a site-specific COVID-19 officer and arranging for office staff to work from home. Further, plans should ensure employers:

  • Train workers using the most current information on the hazard and control measures
  • Ask workers to self-monitor symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, and new loss of taste or smell) before and during shifts, as well as while at home
  • Implement physical distancing procedures such as keeping 6 feet of space between workers and modifying schedules to stagger work
  • Frequently clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces on jobsites and in offices, per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines
  • Provide soap and running water on worksites, when possible, to allow for frequent handwashing; if running water is unavailable, supply alcohol-based hand sanitizers that contain at least 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol
  • Provide NIOSH-approved respirators for job tasks requiring workers to operate in confined spaces or close quarters

The guidance provides specific advice for construction work in health care facilities, recommending employers educate workers on CPWR’s Infection Control Risk Assessment program. Additionally, the guidance calls on workers to stay home if they are sick or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, avoid sick people and shaking hands with others, commute to worksites or parking areas alone, and more.


“The COVID-19 pandemic clearly underscores the need for and value of a strong, adaptable and multipurpose exposure control standard to prevent the spread of infectious diseases on U.S. construction sites,” NABTU President Sean McGarvey said in a press release. “Amid growing concerns across various industries regarding workplace safety in lieu of federal actions, the building trades are trying to do our best to protect our members and contractors on the job, and – for that matter – everyone in the construction industry.”

CPWR also announced the launch of its COVID-19 Construction Clearinghouse, a free online resource for up-to-date information.

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