Gov. Jay Inslee, in consultation with the state’s construction industry, announced a plan today to allow current construction projects to be completed.
The recommendations were informed by workers, contractors, health and safety experts, and local government officials, for safe construction standards.
“I thank all those involved in the construction work group in helping us get to this decision in a responsible way that supports workers, businesses, and communities in a way that protects the health of all of their families and ours,” Inslee said. “Our strategy is working and we need to keep with it. We would much rather protect people from sickness and death now, so that we don’t have to go through this crisis all over again later.”
The requirements developed by the work group are as follows:
1) Restart existing construction projects with COVID-19 safety plans that allow work which only can be performed while meeting social distancing requirements.
2) Prior to recommencing work, all contractors are required to develop and post at each job site a comprehensive COVID-19 exposure control, mitigation and recovery plan.
3) All contractors are required to post at each job site a written notice to employees, subcontractors and government officials the work that will be performed at that job site and a signed commitment to adhere to the requirements.
4) All contractors have a general obligation to keep a safe and healthy job site in accordance with state and federal law.
Specific safety requirements include:
COVID-19 site supervisor
A site-specific COVID-19 supervisor will be designated by the contractor at every job site to monitor the health of employees and enforce the COVID-19 job site safety plan.
COVID-19 safety training
A training must be conducted on all job sites on the first day of returning to work, and weekly thereafter, to explain the protective measures in place for all workers.
Social distancing of at least 6 feet of separation must be maintained by every person on the job site at all times.
Personal protective equipment (PPE) — employer provided
Employers must provide personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, goggles, face shields and face masks as appropriate, or required, for the work being done.
The plan also includes proper sanitation and cleanliness for workers, as well as policies to encourage workers to stay home or leave the job site when they are sick.
The order includes public construction projects underway from the state Department of Transportation as well. WSDOT staff and contractors will implement similar protocols and crews will need to demonstrate how they will adhere to safety protocols and compliance.
The governor was joined by members of the Construction Roundtable working group for the announcement:
- Greg Lane, executive vice president, Building Industry Association of Washington
- Mark Riker, executive secretary, Washington State Building and Construction Trades Council.
- Mike Ennis, government affairs director, Association of Washington Business
- Josh Swanson, political and communications representative, International Union of Operating Engineers Local 302
- Dave D’Hondt, executive vice president, Associated General Contractors
- Matt Swanson, political director, Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters
“My office and the Department of Commerce will convene stakeholder groups to develop plans similar to what we have seen with the Construction Roundtable, to have procedures in place when the time is right to modify restrictions,” Inslee said. “Their work has served as a model for reaching consensus on strict safety guidelines. And this is how we intend to work with other industries and groups on eventually lifting restrictions on other sectors of the economy. We cannot yet say when more businesses will reopen because that will be driven by health data.”
Feedback from the construction industry:
“AGC of Washington thanks the governor and his talented staff for taking us up on our offer to discuss how construction could be safely reopened at the appropriate time,” said Dave D’Hondt, executive vice president of AGC of Washington. “We look forward to continuing to work with our partners on the construction roundtable, the governor’s office, and health and safety officials on the reopening of the next phases of construction. We believe we are striking the right balance between safety and jobs in this vital industry.”
“We appreciated the opportunity to participate on the Governor’s Construction Roundtable,” said Josh Swanson, political and communications representative of the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 302. “Returning to work safely was the priority throughout the discussions and we believe these recommendations achieve that objective for Phase 1 work activities.”
“The NW Carpenters Union is grateful for the governor’s leadership in setting strong parameters to safely restart construction,” said Evelyn Shapiro, executive secretary treasurer, NW Carpenters Union. “Governor Inslee assembled a team of professionals that care about construction workers’ health and the industry to build this plan. This pandemic is a challenge unlike anything we have ever faced and high safety standards are essential. With the Phase 1 guidelines in place, the skills and professionalism of union Carpenters, and strong partnerships with our contractors, we can get back to work safely building our state.”
“This is really good news, not only because construction is such a critical part of our economy but also because it shows the steps we’ve taken to slow the spread of the virus in Washington are working,” said Michael Ennis, director of government affairs, Association of Washington Business. “The construction roundtable that worked with the governor’s office to develop these new protocols allowing for the safe restart of construction looked at everything through the lens of worker safety. It was a great team effort, with business and labor representatives working side by side.”
The governor signed an addendum to Proclamation 20–25. The memorandum serves as the criteria for a limited Phase 1 Construction Restart.