Many states are finally giving contractors the green light to go back to work. However, the jobsite during COVID-19 looks significantly different from the ones we last saw, just a few short months ago. Whether you’re a small specialty subcontractor or a national general contractor, the protocols extend to almost every construction project in progress, or about to start, across the country. While most contractors have been busy focusing on jobsite implementation of the new protocols, many have yet to realize how a lack of compliance can impact projects and cause significant payment delays.

Construction Jobsites Require COVID-19 Compliance

Construction workers are among the highest risk groups for contracting coronavirus. 55 workers tested positive on a Texas A&M construction project. A hotel project near Google’s HQ in California was shut down after workers contracted the disease.

As a result of the increased risk, many states have issued new requirements for COVID-19 compliance that are specific to construction sites. Projects here in Washington state were allowed to reopen on May 5, 2020. All jobsites (except residential projects with less than six workers on-site) must meet the new Phase I COVID-19 construction guidelines for the safety of returning construction workers.

Some of these guidelines are not necessarily new, but simply reminders of existing requirements to keep workers safe and healthy. For example, the Occupational Safety and Health Act requires all employers to provide “a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.”

OSHA has published guidance on COVID-19 compliance specific to construction, which contains “recommendations as well as descriptions of mandatory safety and health standards.”

“Penalties for non-compliance with OSHA regulations can be steep, from $5,000 up to $70,000.”

Most states use OSHA’s recommendations to craft similar guidelines, requiring measures such as:

  • Personal Protective Equipement (PPE), such as face mask and gloves, required at all times on the project.
  • Temperature checks before entering the site.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting supplies readily available.
  • Worker/visitor name and contact info collected daily.
  • Maintaining social distancing among workers.

Penalties for non-compliance with OSHA regulations can be steep, from $5,000 up to $70,000.

Whoever administers the new guidelines on your project must be willing to enforce the latest safety standards, regardless of their personal or political opinions about the pandemic and the resulting global fallout.

Anything less than full compliance leaves your business at risk on many levels.

Impact of Non-Compliance on Construction Projects

But all the criteria and best practices in the world are worthless if jobsite enforcement is lacking. The problem is that one contractor’s non-compliance can have unintended consequences for another construction business, even if they are in full accordance with the new guidelines and procedures.

“One contractor’s non-compliance can have unintended consequences for another construction business.”

Worker safety

Since a potential exposure requires that the worker self-quarantine for 14 days before returning to work again. The worker’s vehicle and home (as well as the other people living there) are also at risk from COVID exposure.

Delayed payments

No matter whose fault it is, failure to follow COVID-19 compliance guidelines can delay payments for everyone on a construction project. Non-compliance can get a project closed down for a  14-day quarantine period or longer, depending on your state’s penalties.

And that project shut down will minimize the amount of your monthly progress billing for that project. Not only that, it can put all progress payments on hold until the job reopens. The failure of any party to comply with regulations can dramatically impact your own company’s cash flow and bottom line.

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