While many businesses are now beginning to open, or to plan openings for later this summer, much of the construction industry never really closed down at all. In Atlanta and throughout much of the country, construction workers were classed among essential workers, allowing projects to continue even when widespread stay-at-home orders were in place.
But despite never entirely shutting down, the industry has seen big changes since March because of worker concerns, client worries and the availability of materials in a pandemic.
Staying safe on a construction site
Like everyone else, construction workers are being urged to socially distance, practice hand hygiene and stay home when sick. However, it can be hard to practice social distancing on a construction site, especially when multiple subcontractors are working at the same time, or if the project is in a small, enclosed area. Staying home when sick can also be a challenge for many workers when there’s no paid time off or sick leave available.
In addition to standard safety recommendations, the Occupational Safety Health Administration (OSHA) also suggests that construction workers:
- Wear masks
- Regularly clean the site with approved chemicals
- Use alcohol-based wipes to sanitize shared tools
- Limit meetings in participants and length
Juggling new timelines
Construction projects unusually require a great number of people—contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, inspectors and others. If any of those people are staying at home, are sick or are delayed on another job, it can throw a project into disarray.
For projects that are in full swing, this can affect contracts, which sometimes include penalties for delays. Many construction companies are reviewing their contracts, noting that it’s challenging to both meet deadlines and complete work quickly while creating a safe work environment.
Some clients are also rethinking work in the current climate. Early in the pandemic, Piedmont Atlanta Hospital opened some areas of its new building two months ahead of schedule, well aware that the extra facility space would be helpful to avoid hospital overcrowding. But other projects—especially those in the hospitality industry—may be on-hold for now.
To add to the complications, material delays have hit construction projects. With China ahead of the U.S. in the pandemic cycle, earlier closures of Chinese factories resulted in some slowdowns or price increases.
Balancing work with safety
First and foremost, while there is a very real risk of unemployment or underemployment, workers and contractors have to face the equally real possibility of infection or transmission to an at-risk loved one. Right now, it’s very challenging to run jobs normally while also keeping worker safety top-of-mind.
Your Georgia Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
A Georgia workers’ compensation lawyer can help you better understand the system, guide your conversations with the insurance company and ensure you have all the documentation you need to make a strong case. The Law Offices of Laura Lanzisera can explain Georgia’s workers’ compensation system and the benefits available for your injury or disability. Contact our office today for a free consultation.