Federal OSHA just issued new COVID-19 guidance focused on the construction industry. It does not tread a lot of new ground, but here is a summary of it.
Most construction projects and tasks will be in the Lower or Medium risk exposure category in OSHA’s COVID-19 risk matrix (those categories require much less in the way of engineering and administrative controls than healthcare and manufacturing facilities. Social distancing and physical barriers continue to be the principal method to control infection recommended by OSHA. With respect to separating employees at construction sites, OSHA recommends:
- Using closed doors and walls, whenever feasible, as physical barriers to separate workers from any individuals experiencing signs and/or symptoms consistent with COVID-19; and/or
- Erecting plastic sheeting barriers when workers need to occupy specific areas of an indoor work site where they are in close contact (less than 6 feet) with someone suspected of having or known to have COVID-19.
OSHA also recommends gathering certain information (and provides sample questions) about projects before sending workers to perform construction activities in an indoor environment that may be occupied by a homeowner, customer, worker, or another occupant.
The new guidance includes a large section on “Face Coverings in Construction,” consistent with OSHA’s general movement towards a consistent expectation that employers will provide and require face coverings in workplaces whenever and wherever social distancing cannot be assured. The Face Covering section in this construction guidance explains that:
- CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings as a protective measure in addition to social distancing (i.e., staying at least 6’ away from others).
- Cloth face coverings are especially important when social distancing is not feasible based on working conditions.
- A cloth face covering may