Hundreds of construction firms across the country are stopping work today to hold what are called safety stand downs focusing on ways to protect construction workers and the public from the spread of coronavirus. The safety stand down, which was organized by the Associated General Contractors of America, was designed to make sure firms and workers are taking measures outlined by public health and safety officials to protect workers on active construction sites and the public.
“Construction firms across the country understand that the public is counting on them to protect workers and nearby communities from the spread of the coronavirus,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Today’s safety stand downs were designed to make sure everyone working in construction knows, and follows, coronavirus safety measures.”
Construction firms participating in the stand down were asked to break their teams into small, socially-distanced groups and cover three different “toolbox” talks that outline steps published by public health and safety officials to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. These talks were held in both English and Spanish and covered issues like socially distancing while working and on break, the need for frequent handwashing, restrictions on tool sharing, and the need to frequently disinfect high-touch areas. Over 31,000 workers are participating in today’s safety stand downs.
Association officials noted that construction has been allowed to continue in most parts of the country because Department of Homeland Security guidance has identified the industry as essential. At the same time, state and local government officials appreciate that the industry has a long history of complying with complex and ever-changing safety procedures. Today’s stand downs were held to make sure the new coronavirus safety procedures and practices are being consistently followed.
In addition to organizing today’s safety stand downs, the association has shared safety suggestions and tool kits with member firms, organized an industry-wide safety webinar focusing on ways to protect workers and the public, and provided additional safety resources and success stories across its network of chapters and members. Association officials added that many other construction firms have reported holding coronavirus stand downs prior to today.
“There is no margin for error when it comes to protecting workers and the public from the spread of the coronavirus,” Sandherr said. “Construction contractors understand that the only way to work amid the current pandemic is to work safely, and that is precisely what these stand downs are helping guarantee.”