Posted Mar 20th, 2020

Worker safety has, and always will be, the top priority for employers in the heavy trades and industrial services. Whether it’s the safety of their workers when operating a piece of equipment, or working in a potentially hazardous environment, in all cases, one thing remains constant: proper planning is essential for success.

The recent COVID-19 outbreak should be treated no differently.

Along with a number of other vital sectors, the construction industry has entered uncharted territory due to the virus’ international impact. But rather than panic, it is essential for employers, especially those here in North America, to stay calm, positive, and well-informed.

To help with this, we’ve summarized and linked a number of related articles and websites from leading trade agencies and publications, that detail the potential impact of COVID-19 on the workplace, what this means for businesses in the heavy trades and industrial services, and more importantly -- how an effective response plan can enable companies to continue operating safely in these turbulent times.

Sources in their entirety are linked below.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA): Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19

COVID-19 Virus

How COVID-19 Could Affect Workplaces

Workers could be absent because they are sick; are caregivers for sick family members; are caregivers for children if schools or daycare centers are closed; have at-risk people at home, such as immunocompromised family members; or are afraid to come to work because of fear of possible exposure.

Interrupted supply/delivery of items
Shipments of items from geographic areas severely affected by COVID-19 may be delayed or canceled with or without notification. 

How Employers Can Reduce Workers' Risk of Exposure to the Virus

Stay informed

  • Stay abreast of guidance from federal, state, provincial and local or territorial health agencies.
  • Response plans should consider and address levels of risk associated with various worksites and tasks workers perform:
    • Are workers working in places that expose them to the general public?
    • Workers’ individual risk factors?
  • Particularly for managers and site leaders, it is important they be aware and sympathetic to workers' concerns about pay, leave, safety, and health.
Develop a contingency plan based on...
  • Social distancing, staggered work shifts, flexible work sites, downsizing operations, delivering services remotely; 
  • Cross-training workers in order to conduct essential operations with a reduced workforce 
  • Increased worker absenteeism;
  • Interrupted supply chains or delayed deliveries. 

Implement routine hygiene practices

  • Regular hand washing;
  • Limit sharing of work devices (cell phones, tablets, etc.);
  • Develop policies and procedures for prompt identification and isolation of sick workers when appropriate: 
    • Encourage workers to stay home if they are sick;
    • Maintain flexibility to allow workers to stay home to care for themselves or sick family members.

Strengthen workplace controls

  • Install high-efficiency air filters;
  • Increase ventilation rates within the work environment where appropriate;
  • Provide properly fitting PPE, including respirators, gloves, face shields, and goggles when appropriate.
Lack of continuity planning can result in a cascade of failures as employers attempt to address challenges of COVID-19 with insufficient resources and workers who might not be adequately trained for jobs they may have to perform under pandemic conditions.

Specialized Carriers & Rigging Association: COVID-19 Crisis Command Center

SCRA: COVID-19 Crisis Command Center

The SC&RA -- whose international membership is involved in specialized transportation, machinery moving, millwrighting, and a number of other heavy trades -- has established an online hub that's committed to bringing you timely and accurate information to help your business navigate this crisis.

Working with government officials and others on a daily basis, the SC&RA will be posting information here as it comes in.

KHL Group: COVID-19 Rolling News Update

KHL Rolling News update

As the leading supplier of international construction information in the world, KHL has you covered with its Rolling News Update and new Construction & Coronavirus newsletter, which will be published regularly (click here to register).

Crane and Hoist Canada: COVID-19 and What Managers Can Do

CHC: COVID-19 and What Managers Can do

Crane and Hoist Canada, the only magazine focused exclusively on Canada’s crane and hoist sectors, provides essential news and information that Canadian crane and hoist professionals need in order to operate successfully and profitably. Visit their website for more articles on how COVID-19 is affecting the heavy trades in Canada. 

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