The National Safety Council recently held a virtual summit that discussed what the future of work holds in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
When asked during a panel discussion what COVID safety changes implemented in the construction industry are most likely here to stay, Catherine West, the director of global safety and health of Jacobs Engineering, came up with these:
- more stringent hygiene practices (e.g., providing hand sanitizer, sanitizing workstations)
- staggering different crews to work at different times
- keeping groups small for foreman meetings and toolbox talks to minimize the spread of illness, and
- radio frequency ID wearables for all crew members “so you know where those people are at any given time. So if you have to go back and do a contact tracing situation, you know where that employee has been, and other work groups they may have been around.”
NIOSH Director Dr. John Howard, who was also on the panel, added temperature checks and symptom screenings to that list. He hopes that more stringent hygiene practices in construction remain in place “regardless of a pandemic.”
Panelist Dr. Keita Franklin, who is the chief clinical officer of healthcare solutions provider Loyal Source Government Services, predicted that employers will notice a widespread lingering psychological toll on their workforce from the pandemic and increase their focus on wellness as a result.
Anything employers can do to encourage taking advantage of resources for handling workplace stressors, such as a peer support group specifically for construction professionals, is helpful, she said.
Because OSHA may roll out additional enforceable COVID standards, it’s a good idea to evaluate how well your construction company is implementing these safety measures.