While Canadian provinces have allowed some construction work to continue during the COVID-19 pandemic, other projects will only see employees returning over the next few weeks. And whether your company is preparing to tackle the next job, or your crew has already been working for some time, it’s clear that the way we work has changed.
The need for safe practices is more necessary than ever before, and it is ultra-important to check with your regional health authority for the correct protective guidelines before starting work. Here are the basic things all construction crews and contractors need to know to keep yourself and your workers safe, while mitigating the spread of the virus:
We all know Health Canada’s mandate that all individuals keep two metres (approximately 6 feet) of distance between each other — the same goes for any workplace, including construction sites. But depending on the project, maintaining that distance can be challenging and/or easy to forget. The most effective sites employ visual markers like pylons, floor markings, tape, and barriers to remind workers to physically distance. In addition, physical distancing can be achieved by staggering shifts, restricting site numbers and limiting elevator usage; and protecting public health by tracking and monitoring workers.
Maintain High Sanitation Levels
With provincial health authorities maintaining that hand-washing is the most effective way to stop virus transfer, it’s ultra-important for every construction site to have an adequate number of washing stations and sanitation area — and ensure that they’re well-stocked with Health Canada-approved anti-bacterial hand soaps and alcohol-based hand sanitizers, along with paper towels and hand wipes. It’s important that EVERYONE at a worksite has easy access to sanitization stations, especially for reduced crews on smaller construction sites. In addition, according to the Canadian Construction Association, it’s up to contractors to ensure high standards of on-site sanitation, especially in high-touch areas: site trailers, door handles, hoists, and other shared equipment need to be disinfected AT LEAST twice a day using products that kill at least 98% of bacteria.
Personal Protective Equipment
While gloves and masks have always been crucial in most construction projects, it’s important to consider the type of PPE your crew needs access to. From nitrile gloves to respirators, the proper usage, handling, disinfection, and disposal of PPE should now be heavily scrutinized to ensure there are no opportunities for viral transmission. If your workers require PPE, it’s important that they’re made aware of proper donning, doffing, and disinfecting procedures, And according to both Health Canada and CCA, PPE (including face masks and gloves) should never be considered an alternative to proper hand-washing and physical distancing.