Staying Safe in the Era of COVID-19
One top concern for construction management service providers in 2021 may be keeping people as safe as possible during COVID-19. Here are some tips gathered from organizations and government agencies, including the Associated General Contractors of America, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
COVID Safety Recommendations
- Create symptom-monitoring policies. Ask employees who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms to stay home or leave the work site. It may be smart to have employees take their temperatures before coming to work each day.
- Work via telephone and remote when possible. Construction project teams in the planning phases or those discussing safety can hold meetings remotely to reduce COVID spread. Subcontractor project management software and communication tools such as Zoom or Slack can make this more manageable.
- Follow social distancing best practices. It’s obviously not always possible for construction workers to maintain 6-foot distances from each other as they work. If you or your teams aren’t actively engaged in working with equipment/tools that require close quarters, try to maintain social distancing.
- Create handwashing or sanitizing stations. Running water isn’t always readily available on construction sites. Instead, make it a point to plan and procure processes to get the supplies needed to create sanitization stations.
- Divide teams into specific crews. The AGC recommends dividing teams into at least two shifts and ensuring employees remain only with their team. This limits contact between the two shifts or teams. If one team needs to quarantine, the other team can continue to work, leaving the project timeline less impacted.
- Limit visitors to job sites. Some visitation may be vital, like site inspectors and client check-ins. However, construction managers can limit the number of people coming onto a site and how much contact they have with others.
- Disinfect equipment and other touchpoints often. Build cleaning processes into your workflow. Equipment and tools may need to be sanitized between each use or between shift changes.
- Create a strong communication plan. Poor communication is expensive. According to one survey, companies with more than 100,000 employees lose an average of $62 million a year simply because staff and leadership aren’t communicating well. Smaller companies — those with around 100 employees — lose an average of $420,000 annually. Failing to communicate effectively during the COVID-19 era can cause more than monetary losses. Make sure you have a plan if someone tests positive and that everyone knows what their responsibilities for maintaining safety.
Other COVID Considerations
As the COVID-19 pandemic waxes and wanes, it’s also important to be aware of the requirements and best practices in various locations. As the numbers have varied widely by location since the pandemic began, your construction site in one city may be subject to completely different requirements than another site in a rural area. Ensure that you have someone who is tasked with keeping up with COVID-19 news and best practices for your industry, and keep an eye on updates from OSHA and the CDC to ensure you remain compliant with any mandates or changes in best practices.
Stay tuned for Part 3 of our 2021 Guide to Construction Management for tips on how to get started using technology to level up the way you do business.