by Dale Partridge
Every business is now faced with the challenges of these unprecedented times. We as employers in the construction industry must move forward to the re-opening of our businesses – to complete our projects on time and bring our employees back to work all while complying with New York State guidelines and ensuring our job sites are safe for everyone. Construction has been able to continue to operate in a limited capacity through these challenging times while navigating the numerous changes and protocols.
When looking at re-opening we need to consider a multitude of items that effect how we will now conduct business. We have input from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), New York State Department of Health, New York State Executive Orders, as well as guidance from the State and Federal level. It may seem a bit overwhelming, however the requirements from all these sources and more can be met with good planning and investment from your companies top management through to the newest hire.
Right from the beginning, Welliver formed a committee to stay abreast of the latest protocol and orders regarding safety on our job sites. We had just one chance to get it right and we enveloped this situation and information to ensure that we did. Without covering the natural progression of events over the past three months, I will explain how we are operating today.
Priority number one was the open communication to all our employees and educating them about the COVID-19 virus. We have come to learn that when employees are better educated on a topic they are more compelled to comply with changes. In addition to the education component there are a number of posters which also explain the signs and symptoms of the virus, how to maintain good personal hygiene, social distancing, proper wearing of face coverings and more. In fact, some of these posters are required to be present in multiple locations on job sites.
This new “normal” has left us with new procedures, policies, and protocols. We are now faced with having a COVID-19 Policy/Plan for every job site. For those that hire Union employees like Welliver, it may be best served to collaborate with other construction corporations to ensure a consistent policy and best practice is being followed throughout your region. We collaborated with other companies and the end result was a very positive message that we were all going to share the same information with our employees. In addition, Welliver was able to offer an already implemented COVID-19 Safety Plan to the other members of the group to use as a template for their respective companies.
We have been fortunate to be able to work throughout this pandemic at one location or another. With that we have continued to gather information and learn as we progressed. Once our initial foundation was set with our employees the rest was administrative changes to policy and procedures. Again, the changes were able to be made without resistance because of our continued open line of communication. Welliver has been very successful with the handling of this pandemic. We have made and continue to make our job sites a safe and healthy place to work.
For additional information, go to OSHA’s website. It provides coronavirus-related guidance for construction industry employers and workers. The guidance includes recommended actions to reduce the risk of exposure to the coronavirus while on a job site or at the office. https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19/construction.html
Dale is Welliver’s Director of Safety. He is a subject matter expert on the topic of safety and a veteran professional with a diverse background in compliance and quality control. Paired with an extensive list of OSHA training and certifications, Dale is responsible for the overall status and facilitation of Welliver’s safety training programs, as well as safety compliance, tracking, reporting, documentation, and oversight of all on-site safety managers. He creates an environment of personal accountability, and plays an integral role in maintaining Welliver’s position as a leader in workplace safety.