As we are seeing construction in the U.S. picking up and restrictions being lowered, it is still not time for contractors to let their guard down yet. Top medical experts have warned that there could be a second wave of COVID-19 cases once more people come into contact with each other and as the flu season begins in the fall according to Construction Dive.
There are steps that contractors can take right now to lessen the impact later on. Making the jobsite a safer place to work is critically important. Having workers wear Triax monitors to help them maintain a safe distance from each other is a good way to make the jobsite safer for everyone. Some contractors are looking into infrared-based temperature technology to make it easier to screen for coronavirus.
Shifting to more remote field options is another consideration. This could include drones and 360 degree cameras to limit the number of people on a project at one time.
Keeping employees safe as they continue working or return to projects is a major concern. Some general contractors have suggested following guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and then adjusting them accordingly in response to new developments.
Some are staggering start times to make it easier to adhere to social distancing guidelines.
Shifting to telework when the position allows has also been helpful. To keep staff from feeling isolated, the company can host Zoom meetings. A lot of employees were not familiar with tools like Zoom, but clients, designers and subcontractors are becoming more comfortable doing business this way.
"We've seen employee engagement higher than when people are working in the office. Our people are enjoying the additional flexibility of working at home."
AECOM CEO | Michael S. Burke
A coronavirus related provision should be included in subcontracts. Construction leaders should be familiar with their contracts to know which events will trigger force majeure provisions that are geared toward providing contractors relief from certain obligations during unforeseen events.
Two other areas contractors need to consider to be prepared for a coronavirus recovery and possible resurgence are workers' compensation and general liability. COVID-19 coverage under workers' comp varies from state to state. Some states do more than others which can cost employers more money to defend claims and more in workers' comp premiums.
Contractors should be prepared to implement robust COVID-19 safety policies, make sure workers follow those policies and then document compliance with those policies more than they normally would.
General liability coverage should also be checked to make sure it doesn't have any exclusions for viruses or communicable diseases. General liability would cover third-party damages, not those incurred by employees.
Now is the time to have a contingency plan in place covering all aspects of the business and to communicate that plan up and down the chain.
Editor's note: This is, indeed, a confusing time for the construction industry. DataBid is working tirelessly to report and distill the news that can help you and your company make the right decisions and keep you up to date on the constant changes as they are made. We hope our coverage brings some clarity amid all the confusion.
Posted by Judy Lamelza