Coronavirus and Construction: Key Risks for Construction Workers and Strategies to Keep Them Safe and Healthy

Coronavirus has affected every sector including construction. Here is a guide for Coronavirus preparation for construction workers to keep them safe and healthy.

With the Coronavirus gaining momentum by the day in Australia, hundreds of thousands of employees across various organisations have been directed to work from home. 

While this might work in some industries, it is not an option for most of those employed in construction. Certain desk-based jobs can be done from home, but for the majority of construction workers, they are required on-site. 

Because of this, it is essential employers are aware of the key risks constructions workers face on-site, and how to protect their workers.

Read on to find all this out

Vehicles, Tools, Paperwork, and Shared Computers Pose Key Risks

The coronavirus, or COVID-19, is moisture-born and can survive on surfaces for up to 3 days. Because of this, all items that are touched by staff and clients pose an infection risk. 

Some items and surfaces are particular danger points. Vehicles and machinery pose a high contamination risk, as controls are often touched for extended periods. In line with this, all tools and equipment items that are handled by different staff could act as infection sites. 

Paperwork and stationery are another range of items that can easily spread the virus. 

According to reports, the coronavirus can survive for 3 days on metal and plastic surfaces, and up to 24 hours on cardboard and paper. 

However, while paperwork has a shorter 'infected' timeframe, it is also much harder to disinfect. Disinfectant spray can be used on almost all other items on-site, such as machinery, vehicles, tools, and common areas such as mobile offices. This is not so for paperwork and documents which will be damaged if sprayed with moisture. 

Besides these items, any shared areas such as trailers, offices, refreshment areas, and toilets, are also high-risk zones for contamination. 

Public Transportation to Job Sites Presents Another Infection Risk

If any of your construction workers are coming to work via public transport, this increases the chance of infection and transmission to other employees.

Trains and buses present many opportunities for infection, as the frequently touched surfaces cannot be sterilized regularly enough to guarantee that infection won't happen. Additionally, when riding a train or bus, it may be impossible for workers to maintain a safe distance from other passengers.

The coronavirus can travel through the air in the form of water droplets from those infected. Therefore it is important to keep a safe interpersonal distance to ensure any saliva from coughing or sneezing does not reach you.

How to Keep Construction Workers Safe

As you can see, there are a lot of risk factors for constructions workers, both on-site and en-route to work. 

To help keep workers safe, sanitization and workplace protocols need to be put into place. Here are some of the actions that construction companies can take to increase the safety of construction workers. 

Implement Strict Sanitization Protocols

One of the most important things to implement is strict sanitization protocols. 

Employees must be required to wash their hands frequently, and preferably before eating or touching their mouths in any way. Involuntary mouth and face touching should be avoided. 

In addition to hand washing, construction workers should be given hand sanitizer to carry with them. This should be used to sterilize equipment handles, vehicle and machinery controls, and any other hotspots for contamination. Workers should also use the spray to disinfect their handles at frequent points. 

Construction companies also need to inform cleaning staff of new sterilization requirements and create a disinfection routine of common areas and items that cleaning staff can carry out. 

To learn more about workplace hygiene practices, read this post

Offer Masks to Construction Workers

In many cases, construction workers already own masks for certain jobs. However, you should also provide them with medical masks. 

While medical masks do not stop the coronavirus infection in its tracks, it can discourage unconscious touching of one's face. If a worker has contracted the virus and is in the incubation stage, wearing a mask will also protect others from infectious moisture particles. 

Advise Employees to Maintain a 1-2 Meter Distance From Each Other and Avoid Handshakes

It has been established that 1-2 meters is a safe range for controlling the spread of COVID-19. At this range, it is near impossible for contamination via sneezing, coughing or spit particles to happen. 

Inform your construction workers of this and advise them to maintain this distance where possible. If they are required to perform an action that brings them into closer contact with each other, they should focus on containing coughing, sneezing and spittle. 

Additionally, as part of coronavirus social distancing, workers should also refrain from shaking hands, both at work and after hours. 

Ensure That Any Worker Who Is Not Feeling Well Goes Home Immediately

If one of your construction workers is not feeling well, they should be sent home immediately and increased disinfection efforts should be implemented. 

The coronavirus's symptoms are very similar to those of the common flu and include:

  • Sore throat
  • Coughing
  • Fever
  • Nasal congestion
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty breathing (in severe cases)

If any worker is displaying these symptoms, it is critical that they are sent home immediately, even if they think it might be an ordinary cold, or wish to stay at work.

Keep Them Informed 

There is much that scientists don't yet know about the coronavirus. As the world tackles this pandemic more information will become available. 

Be sure to keep construction workers abreast of any developments surrounding the coronavirus and how to stay safe. Informed workers pose less of a transmission risk, and can actively contribute to safety on the job site . 

If your business would like more resources or information about  our services please contact us.

Disclaimer: The advice and guidelines recommended in this article may change in the future as more and new information becomes available.

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