CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY – SET TO RESUME OPERATIONS BEGINNING MAY 1, 2020


 
On April 23, 2020, Governor Wolf announced that all businesses in the construction industry in the Commonwealth are permitted to resume “in-person operations” beginning Friday, May 1, 2020. Construction industry businesses include those in new construction, renovation, and repair, as well as land subdivision and design-related field/project site activities.

The Wolf Administration has issued guidance (the “Guidance”) for all construction industry businesses and their employees in anticipation of resuming operations while at the same time mitigating the spread of COVID-19.  The Guidance provides universal protocols for all construction activity, as well as specific additional guidance for residential, commercial, and public construction projects. If you own or manage a construction industry business, you should review these guidelines and ensure such safety protocols are in place before starting up again.


SUMMARY GUIDELINES

Below is a short summary of the key points to consider in preparation of resuming construction operations on Friday.

1.    All construction industry businesses MUST:

•    Follow the Pennsylvania Secretary of Health’s April 15th standing  order establishing general business safety measures, which require every person present at a worksite wear face coverings unless they are unable for medical or safety reasons and require businesses to establish protocols in the event of exposure to a person with COVID-19.
•    Follow all applicable provisions of the Pennsylvania Secretary of Health’s April 5th order establishing building safety measures.
•    Follow other applicable Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance.
•    Maintain 6-foot social distancing (unless safety measures dictate otherwise), provide hand washing and sanitizing stations, and create cleaning and sanitizing protocols for high-   risk transmissions areas.
•    Identify a “pandemic safety officer” for each project or worksite.
•    Limit gatherings to no more than 10 people, maintaining social distancing even when outside.
•    Stagger shifts, breaks, work areas and/or stacking of trades where feasible to minimize the number of workers on site.
•    Limit tool sharing; sanitize tools between uses if they must be shared.
•    Employ jobsite screening based on CDC guidance, prohibit any employees with any symptoms of COVID-19 from working and encourage sick employees to stay home.
•    Prohibit unnecessary visitors to any project or worksite, limit supplier deliveries, and limit access to enclosed spaces to the extent feasible and ensure workers are traveling to and from the jobsite separately.


Additional requirements that are specific to construction industry project types include:

2.    Residential Construction

•    May not permit more than four persons on the jobsite at any time, not including individuals who require temporary access to the jobsite and are not directly engaged in the
     construction activity.

3.    Commercial Construction

•    Enclosed projects or portions of enclosed projects may not permit more than four persons on jobsites of 2,000 square feet or less. One additional person is allowed for each
     additional 500 square feet of enclosed area over 2,000 square feet. These numbers are inclusive of employees of both prime and sub-contractors, but not inclusive of persons
     who require temporary access to the site and are not directly engaged in the construction activity.
•    Establish a written safety plan for each work location containing site-specific details for the implementation of the Guidance to be shared with all employees and implemented and
     enforced by the pandemic safety officer.

4.    Public Construction

•    Performing work at the direction of the Commonwealth, municipalities or school districts should defer to those public entities to determine which projects may continue at this time.

MODIFICATIONS AND ENFORCEMENT

Local governments may elect to impose more stringent requirements than those contained in the Guidance, and in those cases, businesses must follow 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. Enforcement actions against violators of the Governor’s and Secretary of Health’s Orders Closing Businesses That Are Not Life Sustaining commenced on March 23, 2020, and is ongoing.  

If you have questions about this Guidance as you prepare to resume your construction projects, or you encounter other COVID-19 business and legal issues, contact the experienced attorneys at Antheil Maslow & MacMinn, LLP.  We are happy to provide any advice you may need to ensure you are complying with the Governor’s Guidance during these uncharted times.

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