As the number of COVID-19 cases reach 45,000 in Harris County as of July 13, 2020, which includes the city of Houston, Governor Greg Abbott has halted additional reopening phases but has been reluctant to extend the “stay home, work safe” order issued for the county in March. Abbott’s reluctance in this regard has little impact on the construction industry, as the industry was deemed an “essential” business under Harris County’s “stay home, work safe” order, which allowed them to continue working while other businesses could not. Nevertheless, regardless of whether the “stay home, work safe” order is extended, the construction industry should continue to follow Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo’s updated guidance for how construction sites should operate to better protect worker safety and to minimize the spread of COVID-19 in Harris County.
According to Hidalgo’s updated guidance, the construction industry should:
- Identify a designated safety monitor to oversee safety protocols and screen employees for symptoms of COVID-19;
- Stagger employee start and end times;
- Ensure every employee signs in;
- Screen employees for COVID-19 symptoms before starting work;
- Provide handwashing stations and hand sanitizer at accessible locations;
- Provide 15-minute rest periods every four hours for workers to wash their hands;
- Require all employees to wear face coverings;
- Train employees how to properly use/wear protective clothing and equipment;
- Continue to use PPE for other construction hazards;
- Limit usage and ridesharing of company vehicles;
- Disinfect machines after each use;
- Increase personal space to at least 6 ft;
- Remove or rearrange seating in break areas;
- Clean and disinfect portable jobsite toilets and frequently touched objects and surfaces such as workstations, keyboards, telephones, handrails and doorknobs with EPA-approved cleaning chemicals;
- Prohibit communal water coolers and provide bottled waters;
- Provide one (1) working flush toilet for every fifteen (15) workers on site or one (1) outdoor portable toilet for every ten (10) workers on site;
- Keep toilets clean, sanitary and operational at all times, and ensure proper disposal of waste from these facilities;
- Keep in-person meetings as short as possible, limit the number of workers in attendance; and
- Encourage all workers to report any health or safety concern.
For the full list of recommendations for the construction industry, click here.
As an “essential” business, the construction industry is also required to follow the minimum standard health protocols outlined by the Texas Department of State Health Services, which include many of the same recommendations outlined above. For a complete list of these protocols, click here.
If you have any questions about how the updated guidance or the the minimum standard health protocols apply to your business, please contact the KRCL Construction Team.