August 27, 2020

New Guidance to Help the Construction Community Deal with the Challenges of Responding to COVID-19

CONTACT:
Susan Marchese, Managing Director,
Communications & Marketing, AIHA
(202) 256-8986


August 27, 2020 (Falls Church, VA)-- AIHA issued a new guidance document, Focus on Construction Health: COVID-19, to help the construction community deal with the challenges of responding to COVID-19 by providing a practical plan for protecting workers.

The new publication was developed by AIHA's Construction Committee. It provides easy-to-use, accurate information from experts on construction health hazards about how the virus can be controlled on construction sites. It gives employers in any trade where changes in tasks, conditions, and projects are common—such as construction—easily implemented plans for protecting their workers.

“This document will help construction companies identify potentially high-exposure tasks and determine appropriate and useful controls,” said Bill Geer, CIH, project team leader for the document and volunteer for AIHA’s Construction Committee. “It addresses the types of questions that COVID-19 site safety officers, competent persons, construction managers, and superintendents may need to answer every day.”

This new AIHA publication is a companion piece to the recent 2019 publication, Focus Four for Health, which addresses common health hazards in construction. Both documents complement the construction industry's long-running OSHA Focus Four Hazards program that targets the top four fatal injury hazards. Focus on Construction Health, COVID-19 gives construction employers critical information on the factors that affect workplace exposures to this infectious disease. It provides a seven-step plan for protecting workers on construction worksites using the hierarchy of controls. The plan includes a Job Safety Analysis (JSA) step to tailor precautions and controls to site-specific tasks and changing conditions. A resource section provides links to other existing guidance materials useful for construction.

“COVID-19 presents an unprecedented and rapidly changing situation compared to other well-established construction health hazards. New information about the spread of infection and the potential for effective controls continues to develop from many sources,” explained Geer. “This document is intended to provide a clear summary of abundant technical information that is relevant to construction industry employers and managers to guide their efforts.”

Geer went on to say that the document provides key resources that can be checked regularly for updated information and guidance. “The JSA process is already familiar to construction employers, as they implement all aspects of their safety program,” he said. “Construction is a very creative and problem-solving sector, and we are confident that construction employers and employees will adapt to and move beyond the COVID-19 hazard.”

AIHA recently launched workerhealthsafety.org which contains numerous occupational health and safety resources documents for the construction industry.

AIHA represents occupational and environmental health and safety (OEHS) professionals (also known as industrial hygienists) who practice the science of anticipating, recognizing, evaluating, and controlling workplace conditions that may cause workers injury or illness. Through a continuous improvement cycle of planning, doing, checking and acting, OEHS professionals make sure workplaces are healthy and safe.

To download a free copy of this and other guidance booklets, please visit AIHA’s website. To speak with one of the subject matter experts from AIHA’s construction committee or one of the authors of the Focus on Construction Health: COVID-19 guidance document, contact: smarchese@aiha.org.

About AIHA

AIHA is the association for scientists and professionals committed to preserving and ensuring occupational and environmental health and safety in the workplace and community. Founded in 1939, we support our members with our expertise, networks, comprehensive education programs, and other products and services that help them maintain the highest professional and competency standards. More than half of AIHA's nearly 8,500 members are Certified Industrial Hygienists, and many hold other professional designations. AIHA serves as a resource for those employed across the public and private sectors, as well as to the communities in which they work.