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COVID-19 pandemic: OSHA launches website with guidance for construction industry

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Photo: OSHA

Washington — Aimed at reducing COVID-19 exposure among construction workers, OSHA has created a new website with guidance for employers.

The website includes a table that describes work tasks and their exposure risk level (from “very high” to “lower”), based on the agency’s occupational risk pyramid for COVID-19. The website also covers engineering and administrative controls, safe work practices, and personal protective equipment. In the administrative controls section are screening questions employers should ask before sending workers into “an indoor environment that may be occupied by a homeowner, customer, worker or another occupant,” and recommended actions based on the answers to those questions.

 

The website also has a section on cloth face coverings. OSHA warns that “cloth face coverings are not PPE. They are not appropriate substitutes for PPE such as respirators (like N95 respirators) or medical facemasks (like surgical masks) in workplaces where respirators or facemasks are recommended or required to protect the wearer.”

Other recommendations:

  • Keep in-person meetings such as toolbox talks as short as possible, limit the number of workers in attendance and keep everyone at least 6 feet apart during the meetings.
  • Make sure shared spaces in home environments have proper airflow.
  • Stagger work schedules, such as alternating workdays or extra shifts, to reduce the number of employees on a jobsite at one time.

“Employers of workers engaged in construction (such as carpentry, ironworking, plumbing, electrical, heating/air conditioning/ventilation, utility construction work, and earth-moving activities) should remain alert to changing outbreak conditions, including as they relate to community spread of the virus and testing availability,” OSHA states in a May 26 press release. “In response to changing conditions, employers should implement coronavirus infection prevention measures accordingly.”

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