As the construction industry prepares to resume work, the Wolf Administration today issued guidance for all construction businesses and employees to attempt to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
All businesses in the construction industry in Pennsylvania are permitted to resume in-person operations starting on Friday, May 1 – one week earlier than previously announced.
Previously, Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine ordered most construction projects to cease unless they were supporting life-sustaining businesses or activities or were granted an exemption to perform or support life-sustaining activities.
The guidance, developed from guidance created by the General Contractors Association of Pennsylvania, provides universal protocols for all construction activity, as well as specific additional guidance for residential, commercial and public construction projects.
All business and employees in the construction industry are required to adhere to the Secretary of Health’s order providing for business safety measures, which requires that every person present at a work site wear masks/face coverings unless they are unable for medical or safety reasons and requires that businesses establish protocols upon discovery that the business has been exposed to a person who is a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19.
All construction projects must maintain proper social distancing and provide hand washing and sanitizing stations for workers, as well as cleaning and sanitizing protocols for high risk transmission areas. Businesses must identify a “pandemic safety officer” for each project or work site, or, for large scale construction projects, for each contractor at the site.
Residential construction projects may not permit more than 4 individuals on the job site at any time, not including individuals who require temporary access to the site and are not directly engaged in the construction activity.
For non-residential or commercial projects, the number of individuals permitted on enclosed portions of a project varies depending on the size of the enclosed site. Commercial construction firms have been encouraged to strongly consider establishing a written safety plan for each work location containing site specific details for the implementation of this guidance to be shared with all employees and implemented and enforced by the pandemic safety officer.
Contractors performing work at the direction of the Commonwealth, municipalities or school districts should defer to those public entities to determine what projects may continue.
Local governments may elect to impose more stringent requirements than those contained in the guidance and in such instances, businesses must adhere to those more stringent requirements.
Local officials have been tasked with ensuring that construction businesses are aware that this guidance exists and notifying businesses that a complaint of noncompliance was received.
Businesses that have questions about whether guidance applies to them, may email the Department of Labor and Industry at RA-LIBOIS-BUILDINGS@pa.gov.
For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, Pennsylvanians should follow www.governor.pa.gov and www.doh.pa.gov.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said on 4-28 that with some limited exceptions, construction projects that were subject to the State Shutdown Order on March 20 will be allowed to resume in Philadelphia this Friday, May 1. This decision comes in light of the earlier announcement by Governor Wolf that construction business in Pennsylvania can resume on Friday.
“We are currently reviewing that order with respect to construction work in Philadelphia, and we will have more details tomorrow on the extent to which work can return in the city,” said the Mayor. “Construction managers and workers will have to consistently follow practices that keep their workers and the community safe. I’m confident that this will prove to be a much-needed boost to economic activity in the city. And I’m equally confident that everyone involved will be vigilant about adhering to these safe procedures and protocols as this work resumes.”
Duane Morris has created a COVID-19 Strategy Team to help organizations plan, respond to and address this fast-moving situation. Contact your Duane Morris attorney for more information. Prior Alerts on the topic are available on the team’s webpage.
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Be well and stay safe!