As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, states across the U.S. have developed new policies to allow the continuation of “essential” construction work. Increasingly, states that limited construction projects as the pandemic began are now allowing a return to on-site work, with new physical distancing and protective gear requirements being put in place to reduce transmission and ensure worker safety.
Re-opening all construction projects
Many states have declared all types of construction “essential,” adopting new “safer at home” directives that allow for the opening of other businesses and enabling the continuation of both on-site construction work and materials production, while maintaining limits on non-work gatherings. These states include:
|New Jersey||New Mexico|
Essential construction only
Other states are allowing for the continuation of “essential” construction projects, like infrastructure, healthcare and housing, while mandating on-site physical distancing and protective gear. These states include:
|District of Columbia||Indiana|
An individual mandate
In a few states, shelter-in-place orders have been allowed to expire without being replaced, meaning that all businesses, including construction, may re-open according to their own judgement. These states include:
Finally, in a handful of states, no mandate has yet been issued, meaning construction activities can continue at the discretion of individual businesses, although statewide personal protective equipment (PPE) and physical distancing requirements still apply. These states include:
|North Dakota||South Dakota|
Safely returning to work
As states begin to open while attempting to limit the rate of infections, experts say to expect more specific guidance from governing bodies at both the state and local level. OSHA has already released guidelines for construction safety during COVID-19 that will likely become the baseline for state regulation.
Industry publications such as Construction Dive are also continuing to publish news of ongoing on-site infections, with the aim of raising awareness and encouraging safe practices as the industry returns to work.
Over the next few months, as states continue to open and implement more comprehensive safety guidelines, the industry will discover a “new normal” way to return to work.