April 17, 2020

Construction roundtable lays out plan for safely restarting construction in Washington

By: Mike Ennis   Comments: 0

A work group that’s been meeting with state officials to discuss how to get construction safely going again in Washington submitted a recommended course of action to Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday.

The plan, developed by representatives from three business and three labor groups including the Association of Washington Business, calls for a phased approach, based on risk levels rather than construction type. Phase 1 includes low risk projects and a 30-point list of proposed requirements contractors would need to meet in order to restart work at job sites.

The proposed requirements include:

  • A COVID-19 supervisor at every job site to monitor employee health and enforce the COVID-19 job site safety plan.

  • COVID-19 safety training.

  • Social distancing requirements.

  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) requirements.

  • Sanitation and cleanliness requirements, including wash stations.

  • Creating policies regarding employee health that include self-identifying symptoms and informing supervisors if employees or family members are sick.

  • Keeping a log of job site workers and visitors for at least four weeks.

The full list of proposed Phase 1 requirements is available here.

The group is working on recommendations for a Phase 2 risk level for job sites considered “medium risk” and believes that a Phase 3 plan for higher risk projects may ultimately be needed.

Washington is one of only four states where construction has been defined as nonessential. This is a critical sector of our economy, not only because of the direct jobs it sustains and because Washington is facing a housing shortage, but also because it’s a linchpin to so many other parts of the economy.

If construction isn’t happening, sawmills curtail their activity and all the sectors that rely on wood fiber — including toilet paper manufacturers — are impacted. Cabinet shops aren’t making cabinets, concrete isn’t being shipped, and windows aren’t being manufactured. The supply chain relies on the construction industry.

The governor’s office is currently reviewing the proposal. We know this is a difficult time for the construction industry and virtually all sectors of the economy, and we’re hopeful that construction can safely resume sooner than later.