These businesses include those in “new construction, renovation and repair, as well as land subdivision and design-related field activities.” Construction companies that were approved to be open prior to this will also need to comply with these new guidelines.
Construction companies must require all persons on-site wear masks/face coverings and provide for protocols upon discovery of a confirmed COVID-19 case within the business. They must comply with previous building safety measures issued by the Secretary of Health, and other applicable Department of Health and CDC guidance in place. There shall be protocols for cleaning and disinfecting equipment and work areas, and limiting the sharing of tools. The six-foot social distancing remains applicable, even if employees are working outside unless the safety of the public of workers requires deviation (i.e. team lifting). Supplier deliveries should be limited and unnecessary visitors to any project site are prohibited.
There is specific guidance for residential construction: “detached one-family and two-family dwellings and townhouses which are not more than three stories above grade plane in height with a separate means of egress and their accessory structures.” Such projects may not have more than four persons on the site at any time, including employees and prime and subcontractors, but excluding delivery persons and code inspectors.
Similarly, non-residential or commercial construction has its own specific guidance. For projects of 2,000 square feet or less, no more than four persons are permitted at the site at any single time. One additional person is permitted at a site for each additional 500 square feet of an enclosed area over the above mentioned 2,000 square feet. Enclosed square footage area means all areas under the roof that are then currently under construction. As with residential projects, the limit on the number of people on-site includes employees and prime and subcontractors, but not delivery persons or code inspectors. While not required, the governor recommends construction firms that manage large-scale construction projects to establish a written safety plan for each work location and share it with all employees.
Before proceeding with their own construction projects, cities, counties, municipalities, local political units and non-commonwealth public entities must balance public health and safety with the security of critical infrastructure before beginning a project. Per the Governor’s guidance, these entities should continue to postpone non-essential projects, and contractors must not resume work until the public entity has directed otherwise.
“Beginning May 1, 2020, in-person inspection and appraisals related to construction financing loans, and UCC building code plan review and inspection services may be conducted as necessary for all construction projects authorized under this guidance.” Companies should keep informed on local updates as local political units may impose requirements more strict than those within this guidance.
The Coronavirus Task Force at Klehr Harrison stands ready to assist you in your business and legal needs. We will continue to provide additional information and guidance as the COVID-19 situation develops.
Author Gaetano Piccirilli is a partner in the Litigation Department at Klehr Harrison.