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Leaving the Pandemic: How Construction will Emerge



Every day the Pandemic is taking a toll on people and construction across the country. Currently, the National lock down is under very loose guidelines but California has among the most strictest. Executive order N-33-20 Proclaiming a state of emergency from the COVID-19 has prioritized services that can be performed. This newspaper has reported in detail what can and cannot be done, we must look at how the construction industry and professionals will emerge.

Construction workers essential to a construction operation, inspection or maintenance of existing construction sites including housing construction are considered essential and with restrictions can continue, if they are following the standard social distancing, wearing masks and cleaning protocol. 

This is also extended to workers of critical or strategic infrastructure and this should encompass architects and in general most engineers’ services.

This will last into May or even June. You can be assured the California governor has no intention of opening any sooner than necessary. The state with the largest population has the fifth highest mortality and social distancing is effective.

If one goes through the list of “essential service providers” virtually everybody could probably fit in a category. But the reality is we should all be taking extra precautions to minimize transmission of the virus.

The American Institute of Architects, AIA, has developed guidelines for construction to continue as the nation and the state returns to work. http://content.aia.org/sites/default/files/2020-04/Sample_CA_policies_040220.pdf It may never be normal, but it will be effective. For the sake of all construction site workers and visitors, large signs should be posted everywhere especially at the entries for all personnel to maintain reasonable social distancing, masks, gloves, safety goggles and fully covered bodies. I know as weather becomes warmer, that it will be hard to do but athletic long sleeve shirts are most acceptable. Get your suntan on your porch during the weekend. https://www.aia.org/pages/6282570-2020-state-covid-19-executive-order-exempt/?utm_source=real-magnet&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=aiamem20-covid-19-2-weekly-001members

A site safety plan should be made available to all and in multiple languages to fit the circumstances. it would probably be wise to have every employee read, initial and clear for all workers and subcontractors. No exceptions. Proper protocols for all work should be observed, it is more than an OSHA guideline but a safety plan for all ages.

No persons should feel pressured to work in an unsafe or questionable environment. Employers and bosses’ managers should be especially careful not to put workers in unnecessary danger or in to close a proximity. It is recommended that public transportation to and from jobsites be avoided. Much as we distain individual driving, for the short term this would be best. Only take Uber or lift in cars that are professionally cleaned and the driver is separated via plastic panel.

One construction strategy is to lengthen the workday to allow more time between services. As the days get longer, the workday could start at 5 o’clock and end at 7 PM.

For inspections, site observation reports and payment certification professionals will rely more on video and remote camera work. Project managers will circulate constant photos for daily reports. Video conferencing is the default now. Contractor construction platforms such as pro core, prologue or other programs can be integrated not to mention FaceTime or Skype. Don’t you wish you bought stock in Zoom?

Jurisdictions are shutting down jobsites with inconsistency. All workers should check daily to be assured they will not get a ticket. Of course, limit the number of participants on a site and maintain the 6-foot separation if the elevator must only carry two people at a time, so be it. Jurisdictions are shutting down jobsites with inconsistency. All workers should check daily to be assured they will not get a ticket. Of course, limit the number of participants on a site and maintain the 6-foot separation if the elevator must only carry two people at a time, Separate trips.


Chris d. Craiker AIA/NCARB


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