Standard Operating Procedures for Construction Sector during COVID-19
Construction sites operating during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic need to ensure they are protecting their workforce by implementing measures to minimize the risk and spread of infection. Cleaning, disinfecting, and other maintenance and security services performed by building service employees are critical to protecting the public health by reducing COVID19 infections.
Businesses play a critical role in protecting the health and safety of employees and limiting the negative impact on the economy and communities. Preparedness, not panic, is the best way to mitigate the risks posed by a COVID-19 pandemic to the TCI economy and our citizens. A business continuity plan will minimize the impact on business and facilitate a speedy resumption of activities if the business has been forced to scale back or close during the pandemic. The Standardized Protocols for All TCI Construction Sites outlines the best practices for construction sites in order to maintain the health and safety of all workers required to perform duties during the COVID-19 crisis. The protocols, which include prevention, detection and response measures, will minimize the impacts of the crisis and ensure business continuity in the construction industry.
Scope: These guidelines are intended to provide consistent measures on construction sites of all types and sizes in line with the TCIG’s recommendations on social distancing and to ensure employers, employees and other individuals make every effort to comply.
Objectives: Prioritize the health and safety of workers and of their surrounding communities;
- Apply recommendations and best practices from health authorities to construction siteprocedures;
- Establish and maintain a common COVID-19 Pandemic Response Plan across construction sites; and
- Foster open communication amongst stakeholders and ensure a respectful work environment.
All employees should: All workers exercise the following recommended practices for reducing the risk of transmission as identified by the Ministry of Health;
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands;
- When coughing or sneezing: - Cough or sneeze into a tissue or the bend of your arm, not your hand;
- Dispose of any tissues you have used as soon as possible in a lined waste basket and wash your hands afterwards;
- Non-medical face-coverings (such as homemade cloth masks) should be worn as a potential mitigant to catching and transmitting the virus, but are not to be treated as substitutes for proper handwashing, physical distancing, and other protective measures (see additional guidance on non-medical face coverings below).
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces, including all reusable personal protective equipment (PPE);
- Do not share personal items or supplies such as phones, pens, notebooks, tools, PPE, etc.;
- Use and remove PPE with care, being mindful of which surfaces may be contaminated. Individuals must clean their hands after handling any used PPE;
- Avoid common physical greetings, such as handshakes;
- Maintain a minimum physical distance of two metres from others; and
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after using the washroom, before handling food, after blowing nose, coughing, or sneezing, and before smoking.
If hands are not visibly soiled, and soap and water are unavailable, alcohol-based hand sanitizer can be used.
- Where practical, all office employees supporting a project work remotely. Meetings are held through teleconferencing or videoconferencing.
The number of in person meetings is minimized. If required, meetings should involve only necessary individuals and include six people or fewer. Minimum physical distancing is maintained, and meetings are held in open spaces when possible.
Travel to Work
- Employees who have been in close contact with someone infected by COVID-19, must also inform management.
- Wherever possible workers should travel to the site alone using their own transport.
- If workers have no option but to share transport, journeys should be shared with the same individuals and with the minimum number of persons at any one time.
- Good ventilation (i.e. keeping the windows open) and facing away from each other may help to reduce the risk of transmission.
- The vehicle should be cleaned regularly using gloves and standard cleaning products, with particular emphasis on handles and other areas where passengers may touch surfaces.
Management should consider the following:
- Develop and implement a site transportation protocol.
- Parking arrangements for additional vehicles and bicycles.
- Providing hand cleaning facilities at entrances and exits. (This should be soap and running water wherever possible or hand sanitizer, if soap and running water are not available).
- Plan for staff absences due to a number of reasons (personal illness, ill family members, looking after children if schools close, government authorizing quarantine or self-isolation, etc.).
- Staff absences due to illness should be monitored and any increases should be reported to the public health department.
- Prepare a COVID-19 response plan to identify processes for dealing with suspected and confirmed COVID-19 cases.
- Communicate the site expectations and prevention measures to all workers and contractors.
- Provide adequate PPEs (personal protective equipment) for staff if required.
Possible cases of COVID-19
- Individuals who have been potentially exposed to the virus, or who are exhibiting flu-like symptoms such as fever, tiredness, coughing, or congestion are instructed to:
- Not come to work;
- Contact their supervisor and/or human resources department;
- Stay at home and self-isolate; and
- Contact local health authorities for further direction. Such individuals are
required to follow the directions of the local health authority and may not
return to work until given approval by the proper health authorities.
- Individuals who begin to display flu-like symptoms on site are instructed to avoid touching anything, take extra care to contain coughs and sneezes, and return home immediately to undergo self-isolation as directed by the local health authority.
- All areas on site potentially infected by a confirmed or probable case are barricaded to keep individuals two metres (6ft) away until the area is properly cleaned and disinfected.
Site Access and Egress Points
- Stop all non-essential visitors.
- Consider introducing staggered start and finish times to reduce congestion and contact at all times.
- Plan site access and egress points to enable social distancing – management may need to change the number of access points, either increase to reduce congestion or decrease to enable monitoring, including in the case of emergencies.
- Ensure workers are maintaining a distance of 2 metre (6ft) when queuing up to enter site.
- Reminding workers not to attend work if they have symptoms associated with COVID-19 and to follow guidelines.
- Require all workers to wash their hands for 20 seconds using soap and water when entering and leaving the site
- Regularly clean common contact surfaces in reception, office, access control and delivery areas e.g. scanners, turnstiles, screens, telephone handsets and desks, particularly during peak flow times.
- Where loading and offloading arrangements on site will allow it, drivers should remain in their vehicles. Where drivers are required to exit their vehicle, they should wash or sanitize their hands before handling any materials
- Workers must sign the register when leaving the site.
- Consider arrangements for monitoring compliance.
Appropriate use of non-medical mask or face covering
When worn properly, a person wearing a non-medical mask or face covering can reduce the spread of his or her own infectious respiratory droplets.
Non-medical face masks or face coverings should:
- allow for easy breathing
- fit securely to the head with ties or ear loops
- maintain their shape after washing and drying
- be changed as soon as possible if damp or dirty
- be comfortable and not require frequent adjustment
- be made of at least 2 layers of tightly woven material fabric (such as cotton or linen)
- be large enough to completely and comfortably cover the nose and mouth without gaping
- Non-medical masks or face coverings should not:
- be shared with others
- impair vision or interfere with tasks
- be placed on children under the age of 2 years
- be made of plastic or other non-breathable materials
- be secured with tape or other inappropriate materials
- be made exclusively of materials that easily fall apart, such as tissues
- be placed on anyone unable to remove them without assistance or anyone who has trouble breathing
- Homemade masks are not medical devices and are not regulated like medical masks and respirators. Their use poses a number of limitations:
- they have not been tested to recognized standards
- the fabrics are not the same as used in surgical masks or respirators
- the edges are not designed to form a seal around the nose and mouth
- they may not provide complete protection against virus-sized particles
- they can be difficult to breathe through and can prevent you from getting the required amount of oxygen needed by your body
- These types of masks may not be effective in blocking virus particles that may be transmitted by coughing, sneezing or certain medical procedures. They do not provide complete protection from virus particles because of a potential loose fit and the materials used.
- Medical masks, including surgical, medical procedure face masks and respirators (like N95 masks), must be kept for health care workers and others providing direct care to COVID-19 patients.
- All offices and jobsites implement additional cleaning measures of common areas. All door handles, railings, ladders, switches, controls, eating surfaces, shared tools and equipment, taps, toilets, and personal workstation areas are wiped down at least twice a day with a disinfectant, such as disinfectant wipes.
- Individuals are responsible for cleaning and disinfecting their workstations.
- Additional sanitary measures are implemented on site: hand washing stations with a posted hand washing protocol, hand sanitizer stations, provision of disinfectant wiping products. These types of facilities are made available at site entries, exits, washrooms, eating areas, offices, and any other areas with commonly touched surfaces.
- Commonly touched surfaces on vehicles and equipment are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected at the end of shifts and between users.
- Allow workers regular breaks to wash their hands.
- Provide additional hand washing facilities (e.g. pop ups) to the usual welfare facilities, particularly on a large spread out site or where there are significant numbers of personnel on site, including plant operators.
- Ensure adequate supplies of soap and fresh water are readily available and kept topped up at all times.
- Provide hand sanitizer (70% alcohol based) where hand washing facilities are unavailable
- Regularly clean the hand washing facilities.
- Provide suitable and sufficient rubbish bins for hand towels with regular removal and disposal.
- Restrict the number of people using toilet facilities at any one time (e.g. use a welfare attendant) and use signage, such as floor markings, to ensure 2 metre (6ft) distance is maintained between people when queuing.
- Wash or sanitize hands before and after using the facilities.
- Enhance the cleaning regimes for toilet facilities, particularly door handles, locks and the toilet flush.
- Portable toilets should be cleaned and emptied more frequently.
- Provide suitable and sufficient rubbish bins for hand towels with regular removal and disposal.
First Aid and Emergency Service Response
- The primary responsibility is to preserve life and first aid should be administered if required and until the emergency services attend.
- When planning site activities, the provision of adequate first aid resources must be agreed between the relevant parties on site.
- Emergency plans including contact details should be kept up to date.
- Consider preventing or rescheduling high-risk work or providing additional competent first aid or trauma resources.
- Contractors are to conduct periodic audits (frequency to be determined based on a project scale and scope) to verify that the appropriate measures have been implemented and are maintained.
- Business guidelines will need to be reviewed and updated in accordance with TCIG guidance which may be issued from time to time and which can be located on the TCIG website.
- Use credible and reliable sources of information to monitor and assess the situation and refine your plans accordingly.