Normally, the process of addressing construction related hazards is fairly straightforward. The use of site-specific and task-based hazard assessments to identify risk reductions strategies using engineering, administrative and lastly, personal protective equipment, as control options is a proven game plan.
Now, in a world with potential COVID-19 workplace exposures, construction employers are challenged with keeping construction projects on track, while protecting their most valuable resource—our skilled trades workers.
To help identify and implement safe work practices that align with OSHA regulations, CDC recommendations and the public’s expectations of actions that reduce workplace coronavirus exposures, a COVID-19 Joint Construction Safety Task Force was established in early April by the Oregon State Building and Construction Trades Council.
The task force is a partnership of union and non-union industry professionals, with support from Oregon OSHA. The group meets twice a week to monitor health information, review government guidelines, and to collect data and other COVID-19 related information.
Representing NECA and IBEW on the task force are Garth Bachman, IBEW Local 48 Business Manager; Wayne Chow, IBEW Local 48 President; Drew Lindsey, IBEW Local 280 Business Manager; Maurice Rhaming, owner of O’Neill Construction Group; and Barry Moreland, Safety Director of the NECA-IBEW Electrical Training Center.
Since inception, the group has visited 20 construction sites and compiled a number of industry best practices and resources which have been published to this newly created website, hosted by the Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences.
The group will continue to coordinate job site visits as long as Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s “Stay Home, Save Lives” executive order is in place, and will continue to update the website with additional resources and best practices as they become available.
NIETC Safety Director