While numerous workplaces asked their employees to work from home, many people needed to continue their work in the field. How to continue fieldwork safely has been an important topic for many, including PSC. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention update guidelines daily, and contractor best practices also help form educated guidelines to continue fieldwork as safely as possible. PSC also created firm Covid-19 taskforce to encourage these safety practices.

The following are some recommendations for PSC employees to follow when spending time on site is necessary:

  1. Avoid overnight in hotels. Travel to and from project locations daily is preferred. Limit time on project locations, so there is adequate time to return home safely in a single day. Avoid eating on the road or out of town. Take meals and snacks from home.
  2. No on-site meetings. Speak to project superintendents at least 10 feet apart. Report groups to the superintendent and avoid groups yourself.
  3. Limit conversations to the essential discussions, and limit the duration as much as possible.
  4. Observe construction from as much distance from other workers as possible. Use FaceTime or similar applications to observe work when possible to avoid unnecessary contact.
  5. Observe material testing from as much distance as possible.
  6. Do not use on-site portable facilities.
  7. Do not touch anything when on site.  Do not use ladders unless unavoidable.
  8. Do not pass paperwork between contractors, testing labs or suppliers on site. Use e-mail attachments to distribute copies.

In addition to PSC’s safety precautions, here are some contractor best practices:

  1. Contractors are limiting almost all travel for work crews. This means most work crews are staying in the towns they are in and have not returned home for several weeks with no plans to return home any time soon.
  2. Work crews are not sharing staff. Often contractors will shift workers around to fill in needs on various crews. For example, one crew member might be a concrete form setter today and spend the rest of the week helping the dirt crew or others. This exposes workers to more people and would shut a contractor down quickly if someone got sick. Now contractors are keeping smaller crews of people focused on single tasks and do not move staff between crews.
  3. Job trailers and meeting locations are being unused. Meetings in general and group gatherings are not occurring on project locations.
  4. Workers are spending their break times away from each other and not in groups.
  5. Confined space activities have been postponed. To avoid close human contact, these activities have been pushed back to later dates where possible. This also has included pipe installations in trenches. Contractors are focusing on other areas of work or using different installation techniques that may be slower but involve less staff.
  6. Workers are staying at least 10 feet apart if possible, ALWAYS.

“Until this crisis is over, it is critical we stay proactive with our safety and health precautions for our field staff and others who may need to make a site visit.”

Mark Aaron Carpenter