COVID-19: OSHA Adds 12 Ways to Protect Construction Workers

Originally published by: EHS TodayDecember 23, 2020

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COVID-19 has posed additional challenges for the millions of construction workers in the United States, many of whom are without health insurance.

A women in construction wearing a face mask

© Saadettin |

Their health is inextricably tied to the economy’s health. Indeed, the construction industry is directly and indirectly tied to several economic indicators. Therefore, it behooves employers and workers to take extra precautions to reduce the risk of coronavirus exposure.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently issued additional guidance for those in the construction industry.

Read the following to see what OSHA advises employers and workers do to keep everyone safe in the weeks and months to come.

1. Stay Home

Encourage workers to stay home if they feel sick. This has always been important, as the body needs time to rest and recover. But staying home is even more important if workers have a highly infectious disease like COVID-19.

A man laying on a couch reading a thermometer

© Lisa F. Young |

2. Wear Facemasks

In some states, wearing facemasks is required, even if outdoors. Some employers have also mandated facemasks. Regardless of requirements, encourage workers to wear masks—and make sure they wear them correctly over their nose and mouth—to prevent them from spreading the virus and protect them from catching the virus.

3. Continue Other Precautions

COVID-19 has disrupted the workplace, but it's not the only safety concern. Continue to follow other safety procedures and measures, including personal protective equipment, to protect workers from other job hazards associated with construction activities.

4. Maintain Social Distance

You know the drill by now. Advise workers to avoid close physical contact with others and direct employees, contractors and visitors. Maintain distance of at least six feet, where possible, both outside and inside. That's especially important when inside trailers and in other common areas.

A sign about wearing protective equipment in that work area

5. Follow Proper Donning, Doffing Protocols

It's important to wear facemasks and other protective equipment, but it's even more important to wear them correctly. Train workers how to properly put on, use/wear, and take off protective clothing and equipment.

6. Encourage Respiratory Etiquette

COCID-19 has made uncovered coughs and sneezes are so passe. Use a tissue, handkerchief, elbow or at last result hands, but be sure to wash them immediately after using soap and water or hand sanitizer. Encourage respiratory etiquette to make workers feel safer at work and reduce the spread of germs.

7. Promote Personal Hygiene

Lather soap and use warm water to rid hands of germs. Wash hands for 15-30 seconds, about the length of time it takes to sing "Happy Birthday." If soap and water isn't immediately available on the jobsite, provide workers with alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.

Group of people in a conference room wearing face masks

© Robert Kneschke |

8. Disinfect Surfaces

Cleaning surfaces frequently can help stop the spread of COVIC-19 and other viruses. Be sure to use Environmental Protection Agency-approved cleaning chemicals from List N or that have label claims against the coronavirus.

9. Clean Shared Equipment

If tools or equipment must be shared, provide and instruct workers to use alcohol-based wipes to clean tools before and after use. When cleaning tools and equipment, workers should consult manufacturer recommendations for proper cleaning techniques and restrictions. Remind workers it's nothing personal and that cleaning tools helps keep them and their co-workers safe.

10. Gather Safely

Keep in-person meetings (including toolbox talks and safety meetings) as short as possible, limit the number of workers in attendance and follow social distancing practices.

11. Disinfect Commonly Touched Surfaces

Clean frequently touched surfaces or items, such as door pulls and equipment knobs or handles. Disinfect portable jobsite toilets regularly. Designate times when all surfaces will be wiped down, such as at the end of the shift. Make cleaners and hand sanitizer dispensers easily accessible to promote cleaning throughout the day, too.

12. Reinforce Reporting

Encourage workers to speak up if they have any health or safety concerns about the job site.


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