Jobsite safety has always been a major objective on construction sites. Since the onset of COVID-19, that concern has become even more heightened, especially as sites begin to reopen.
A recent study commissioned by Steve Adler, the mayor of Austin, Texas, found that if jobsites reopen without taking any special safety precautions, the number of hospitalizations due to coronavirus for the general population could triple. Additionally, there would be an estimated eightfold increase by mid-August in the number of workers who would be hospitalized.
OSHA has created a guide of recommendations for safety and health standards to assist construction sites in providing a safe workplace. In it they suggest remaining alert to any changing outbreak conditions and assessing the hazards to which workers may be exposed. For example, tasks that allow employees to be at least 6 feet apart and involve little contact are deemed lower risk. Work that takes place at an indoor site with a large group of people puts workers at a high risk.
To help ensure your site is safe, here are some strategies and tips from industry experts.
Maintaining compliance in the best of circumstances can be difficult, much less during a time of crisis. That’s why it’s crucial to communicate the new realities of working during a pandemic. Explain new health and safety measures. Make sure all workers have the tools and PPE they need and have been properly trained.
It is also necessary to ensure all visitors and contractors to your site are aware of your social distancing and hygiene practices. This might mean sending out communication outlining your safety measures to everyone working on your project. In addition, place signs strategically around the site letting people know where they can and cannot go, as well as ones that explain your safety practices.
In this new environment we are living in, social distancing is the new normal. This can be challenging on a construction site, where physical work is required. However, there are things that can be implemented to help achieve it.
In addition to social distancing, keeping surfaces clean and disinfected is important in helping to stop the spread of the virus. Tools, equipment, machinery, door handles and any other surfaces that are frequently touched should be wiped down regularly.
With so many advancements in technology, off-site collaboration is easier than ever. Tools for drawing, modeling, documentation and data sharing can reduce the need for in-person and onsite meetings. It also helps eliminate the need to physically share paper.
Technology also serves to improve efficiency of the project. Supervisors can manage projects remotely by getting real-time updates from workers, thus eliminating unnecessary face-to-face interactions.
To help reinforce any new safety measures and prepare your place of work for reopening, it might be beneficial to create a checklist. This list should include topics on:
1. Social distancing
2. Site safety
3. Employee safety
4. Cleaning and disinfecting
Once you have implemented your new safety measures, how do you know they are being followed? Remote video surveillance is a safe, effective solution to watch over activity without ever having anyone step foot on your site. Trained security operators, advanced technology and surveillance cameras can give you a clear picture of everything that is happening on your project.
This includes Pan-Tilt-Zoom cameras (PTZ) that can be installed on the property. These cameras can move up, down, left and right, as well as zoom in and out from an average of 500 feet away. Because they are controlled remotely, you get clearer visibility of your site without having to visit it in person.
The pandemic has forced the construction industry to change the way it operates. No site will ever be completely risk-free. By taking extra precautions, you can help keep everyone safe.
For more information about remote video monitoring solutions, contact us.