What you do in the next five minutes can have a significant effect on your health. In the age of COVID-19 our choices, both large and small, will determine our success in preventing viral infection and controlling the outbreak.
“We have protocols in place regarding communicable diseases that are emphasized during flu season, and they need to be observed,” says Mike McKenna, executive director of the BC Construction Safety Alliance (BCCSA). “But we also need to recognize new protocols, such as ‘social distancing’ designed to stop human-to-human transmission of the virus. All regulations and recommendations already in place for the construction sector remain in force and are still relevant.”
While construction workers are always required to wash their hands when they get dirty, the requirement to do so thoroughly and often take on a particular urgency in the face of COVID-19.
“Employers are responding with additional handwashing stations, additional hand sanitizing stations and extra soap and cleaning solutions,” says McKenna. “It’s a team effort.”
Recognizing and responding to the symptoms of COVID-19 is also critical. If anyone experiences fever, cough, aches and pains, headache, runny nose, or nausea, or believes they may have been exposed to the virus, the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) urges them to immediately self-isolate for seven days, to reduce the risk of transmission to others.
“We emphasize that under the current circumstances, you don’t need a doctor’s note to remain at home,” says McKenna. “We don’t want to overburden the medical system with this sort of call.”
If workers encounter unsanitary conditions, or a construction site doesn’t allow for safe social distancing, they have the right to refuse dangerous work in light of COVID-19.
The BCCSA has issued COVID-19 guidance for employers, and information resources to distribute or use as the basis of toolbox talks and safety meetings, available here.
Although guidance continues to evolve, at this time the BCCSA is making the following recommendations to its members:
- Do not permit anybody to enter a worksite if:
- They or a member of their household have travelled outside the country within the past 14 days.
- They or a member of their household have exhibited symptoms of COVID-19 in the last 14 days.
- Ensure that all workers are able to maintain at least a 2-metre distance from one another at all times. If this does not allow you to complete a job safely then the job should be delayed.
- Ensure that handwashing stations and hand sanitizer are available for all workers. The BCCDC has issued proper hand-washing guidance here.
- Frequently disinfect high-touch surfaces (e.g., doorknobs, handles, control panels) and eating areas with antimicrobial cleaners or bleach (1 part bleach to 9 parts water).
- All workers should change their clothing and remove their shoes immediately upon arriving home.
- Avoid meeting with clients or potential clients in person.
- Avoid entering clients’ homes.
- Avoid air travel.
- Do not hold or attend any meetings or conferences with more than 50 participants.
- Prepare to suspend all non-essential operations. This situation is evolving rapidly and further restrictions will likely be required in the coming days, weeks and months.
“We will keep our members updated as new information becomes available,” says McKenna. “We may have to change the way we do business for a few weeks or a few months, but it’s a small sacrifice to make. The quality of our response will have a lasting effect on our lives, and those of our families, friends, fellow workers, clients and the entire community.
This content is an Industry Special by BCCSA in collaboration with ConstructConnect® Media. To learn more about BCCSA, visit www.bccsa.ca. For more information on the NCSO™ designation, email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on the NHSA™ designation, email email@example.com.