Wolf Administration’s Guidelines for Resuming Construction in Pennsylvania on May 1, 2020 (with links to important guidance documents)
Governor Wolf has permitted all businesses in the construction industry in Pennsylvania, including those in land subdivision and design-related field activities, to resume in-person operations beginning Friday May 1, 2020, as long as their activities strictly adhere to the Wolf Administration’s published guidance (outlined below with links to specific documents). It is important to note that local political units may impose more stringent requirements than the Administration’s guidance and construction businesses must adhere to those more stringent requirements. If there is a direct conflict between the Wolf Administration’s guidelines and directives of commonwealth agencies or independent commissions, the Wolf Administration’s guidelines control.
ALL CONSTRUCTION ACTIVITIES
All businesses and employees in the construction industry must do the following:
- Follow all applicable business safety provisions in the April 15, 2020 Order of the Secretary of Health, including but not limited to provisions requiring that every person present at a work site wear masks/face coverings, and requiring the establishment of protocols upon discovery that the business has been exposed to a person who is a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19.
- Follow all applicable provisions of the April 5, 2020 Order of the Secretary of Health providing for building safety measures.
- Follow other applicable Department of Health (DOH) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance.
- Require social distancing (6-feet minimum distance between workers) unless the safety of the public or workers require deviation (e.g. drywalling, team lifting).
- Provide hand wash stations at appropriate locations on the site, such as building entrances, break areas, food truck areas, offices, trailers, and job site egress areas.
- Implement cleaning or sanitizing protocols at all construction sites and projects. Identify and regularly clean and disinfect areas that are at high risk for transmission (requirements to clean common areas and regularly trafficked spaces periodically).
- Ensure that when required to meet, all gatherings are limited to no more than 10 people, maintaining 6-foot social distancing, even when conducted outside.
- Use virtual meetings and disseminate information electronically to the extent feasible.
- Stagger shifts, breaks, work areas and/or stacking of trades where feasible to minimize workers on site.
- Limit tool sharing and sanitize tools if they must be shared.
- Employ jobsite screening based on CDC guidance to determine if employees should work. Prohibit from working any employees with any symptoms of COVID-19. Encourage sick employees to stay home.
- Prohibit unnecessary visitors to any project or work site and limit supplier deliveries.
- Limit access to enclosed spaces to the extent feasible.
- Ensure workers are traveling to and from the job site separately. Wherever possible employees should not share a vehicle.
- Identify a “Pandemic Safety Officer” for each project or work site, or, if a large-scale construction project, then for each contractor at the site. The primary responsibility of the Pandemic Safety Officer will be to convey, implement, and enforce the social distancing and other requirements of this guidance for the protection of employees, suppliers, and other personnel at the site.
Residential projects may not permit more than four persons on the job site at any time inclusive of employees of both prime and subcontractors, but not inclusive of delivery persons, code inspectors, or similar persons who require temporary access to the site and are not directly engaged in the construction activity.
Enclosed Projects – Personnel Limits. Enclosed projects, or portions of enclosed projects, may not permit more than four persons on job sites of 2,000 square feet or less. In addition, one additional person is allowed for each additional 500 square feet of enclosed area over 2,000 square feet. These numbers are inclusive of employees of both prime and subcontractors, but not inclusive of delivery persons, code inspectors, or similar persons who require temporary access to the site and are not directly engaged in the construction activity. Enclosed square footage shall include all areas under roof that are under active construction at the time.
Written Safety Plan and Designated Pandemic Safety Officer. Commercial construction firms, particularly including those managing large-scale construction projects, should strongly consider establishing a written Safety Plan for each work location which contains site specific details for the implementation of this guidance to be shared with all employees and implemented and enforced by the designated Pandemic Safety Officer. Suggested content for a written Safety Plan is set forth in PennDOT’s COVID-19 Guidance for Restarting Construction Projects (page 7) available here and also in guidance form the Master Builders Association of Western, PA available here.
Businesses that have questions about whether the Administration’s guidance applies to them may email the Department of Labor and Industry at RA-LIBOIS-BUILDINGS@pa.gov.
Answers to frequently asked questions involving application of the Employee Safety Order is available here (detailed information about masks and other practical safety requirements for employees can be found here).
If you have a question about compliance with the Governor’s COVID-19 Construction restrictions or any construction matter, please contact Jeff Venzie of Venzie Construction Law at firstname.lastname@example.org or (484) 359-7323.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.