Governor Wolf announced that Pennsylvania construction companies will be permitted to resume operations beginning May 1, one week ahead of schedule, provided they adhere to the Administration’s guidance.
The Governor’s guidelines include, among other things, strict social distancing measures (unless employee or public safety requires a deviation); requirements to provide handwashing stations at building entrances, break areas, food truck areas, offices, trailers, and exits; implementation of cleaning or sanitizing protocols; limiting gatherings of workers to no more than 10 people (while maintaining social distance); staggering shifts and break times; limiting tool sharing; prohibiting unnecessary visitors and carpooling; and designating a Pandemic Safety Officer.
According to the Administration’s guidance, in-person activities will be permitted if businesses follow all applicable provisions of the worker safety and building safety orders issued by the Secretary of Health, as well as all applicable Department of Health and CDC guidance. In addition, local public entities may impose stricter guidelines that may apply in those jurisdictions.
The Administration’s guidance distinguishes between residential and commercial construction projects. Residential construction projects are limited to only four persons on a job site at one time (exclusive of delivery persons, code inspectors, or similar persons not directly engaged in the project who may require temporary access).
On the other hand, for non-residential or commercial construction, the four-person limit applies only on enclosed or portions of enclosed projects on job sites of 2000 square feet or less. One additional person is permitted for each additional 500 square feet of enclosed area over 2000 square feet.
Notably, for both residential and non-residential or commercial construction projects, the four-person limit relates to workers regardless of their employer.
Commercial construction firms are also encouraged to establish written “Safety Plans” for each work location. These should contain site-specific details for implementing the Administration’s guidance to be shared with all employees and to be enforced by the company’s Pandemic Safety Officer.
Under the guidance, local political subdivisions and municipalities are encouraged to balance public health and safety while ensuring the continued safety of public infrastructure, and are encouraged to follow the Governor’s guidance on public construction projects.
It is important to remember that this guidance put forth by the Commonwealth is subject to change as the situation continues to evolve.
For any questions or concerns about implementing policies or procedures to maintain operations beginning May 1, contact any member of the McNees Labor & Employment or Construction Law groups.