Pennsylvania Guidance for Construction Industry to Resume May 1

Wolf Administration Issues Guidance as Construction Industry Prepares to Resume Work May 1

From the Official Pennsylvania Government Website:

As the construction industry prepares to resume work, the Wolf Administration today issued guidance for all construction businesses and employees to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

All businesses in the construction industry in the commonwealth are permitted to resume in-person operations starting Friday, May 1 – one week earlier than previously announced.

Previously, Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine ordered most construction projects to cease unless they were supporting life-sustaining businesses or activities or were granted an exemption to perform or support life-sustaining activities.

“My administration has taken measured, aggressive steps to protect public health and safety, including strictly limiting the types of businesses and projects that may continue to operate during this unprecedented time,” Wolf said. “Thankfully, these actions are working, and we are flattening the curve. As we start to take steps to reopen the state, we recognize that the construction industry is vital to Pennsylvania’s economy and may operate safely with stringent guidance in place that will protect employees and the public.”

The guidance, developed from guidance created by the General Contractors Association of Pennsylvania, provides universal protocols for all construction activity, as well as specific additional guidance for residential, commercial and public construction projects.

All business and employees in the construction industry must adhere to the Secretary of Health’s order providing for business safety measures, which requires that every person present at a work site wear masks/face coverings unless they are unable for medical or safety reasons and requires that businesses establish protocols upon discovery that the business has been exposed to a person who is a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19.

All construction projects must maintain proper social distancing and provide hand washing and sanitizing stations for workers, as well as cleaning and sanitizing protocols for high risk transmission areas. Businesses must identify a “pandemic safety officer” for each project or work site, or, for large scale construction projects, for each contractor at the site.

Residential construction projects may not permit more than four individuals on the job site at any time, not including individuals who require temporary access to the site and are not directly engaged in the construction activity.

For non-residential or commercial projects, the number of individuals permitted on enclosed portions of a project varies depending on the size of the enclosed site. Commercial construction firms should also strongly consider establishing a written safety plan for each work location containing site specific details for the implementation of this guidance to be shared with all employees and implemented and enforced by the pandemic safety officer.

Contractors performing work at the direction of the commonwealth, municipalities or school districts should defer to those public entities to determine what projects may continue.

Local governments may elect to impose more stringent requirements than those contained in the guidance and in such instances, businesses must adhere to those more stringent requirements.

Local officials have been tasked with ensuring that construction businesses are aware that this guidance exists and notifying businesses that a complaint of noncompliance was received.

Businesses that have questions about whether this guidance applies to them may email the Department of Labor and Industry at RA-LIBOIS-BUILDINGS@pa.gov.

View this information in Spanish.

Nationwide “AC” Regarding Manufactured Housing Window Shortage

I have been made aware of a recent action by HUD regarding the manufactured housing program that is worth sharing with installers and retailers.

Evidently, manufacturers are having problems purchasing windows that meet the older standards referenced in the Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards (HUD Code). As a result, HUD has issued a blanket letter of Alternative Construction (AC Letter) that allows for the use of windows that meet the more recent standards generally accepted in other building codes.

As you know, AC letters require that the letters “AC” be included in the serial number of the home and that a notice be provided to any perspective purchaser explaining the issue. The blanket AC Letter requires that the manufacturer post the required purchaser notice “in the kitchen area of the home”. No action is required on the part of retailers and installers. For more information on Alternative Construction, see my post on that topic Let’s talk about: Alternative Construction (2-26-2018)

It is important that retailers and installers understand this situation so that they can accurately answer any questions posed by their customers who happen to see this notice. It is possible that you may run across a new manufactured home that utilizes multiple AC letters, like one for windows as well as other construction features. Make certain you check in the homeowners’ packet for any other AC approvals that may require your action.

Finally, while this is a blanket, nationwide AC Letter, I am sure that not every manufacturer will need to utilize this waiver. I suggest you talk with your manufacturer’s Quality Assurance Manager and ask them to keep you up-to-date on this issue.

Below is the link to the HUD website where you can access the AC letter and the notice:

Coronavirus Suggestions for Installers & Retailers

We are all looking forward to getting the Coronavirus under control and things getting back to normal. While it appears that the country will get back to work someday, this event will have a lasting impact in every part of our personal and professional lives. Right now, we should be preparing for what will become the “new” normal.

Smart manufactured home installers and retailers will take advantage the next several weeks to examine their daily routine and practices. Now is the time to begin taking steps to better protect themselves, co-workers, customers and families.

I have tried to come up with a list of ideas that our industry could use in helping to reduce the spread of Covid-19 or any future public health epidemic. So, here are my suggestions for some simple steps we all should be taking:

  1. Disinfectant wipes should be added to every tool box, truck, car, office, shop and work area. Start frequently wiping down any tools that are shared such as nail guns, saw handles, jacks, come-a-longs, etc. Don’t forget keys, steering wheels, door handles, keyboards, thermostats, control knobs and every other common use item. Cleaning should occur daily, and certainly each time a new user or operator touches a particular tool or piece of equipment. Avoid sharing tools with others!
  2. Hand sanitizer for everyone! Just be sure that any sanitizer you use is at least 60% alcohol.
  3. When you are on the job site, it is important to know that hand sanitizers are not as effective on dirty covered hands. Hands must be clean for the sanitizer to be effective. If soap and water is not available, consider using water-less hand cleaner (such as GoJo®) to remove the dirt. Be sure everyone understands the need to sanitize once their hands are clean.
  4. Trash, especially food wrappers and containers, should be removed frequently, and at a minimum once a day. At job sites as well as the office!
  5. Disposable latex gloves might seem crazy for the job site, but I believe smart installers will all be wearing them in the near future. You can get a box of 100, industrial quality latex gloves for just about $15. For those that may have an allergy with latex, nitrile and vinyl are a great option.
  6. Eye protection is a must! We don’t want people touching their eyes, and safety glasses will help protect your eyes from irritants.
  7. In the sales centers, if you have a mug or cup filled with pens available for your customers, now is the time to get rid of them (and the mug as well)!
  8. Water coolers, coffee pots, candy dishes, boxes of donuts, bags of homemade deer jerky, and the like, need to be eliminated from offices, lunch rooms, etc., (yes, deer jerky!).
  9. Limit the amount of sales literature available in your sales centers. Consider passing out these materials when requested. Allowing folks to browse racks of brochures, and possibly contaminating them, should be discouraged. One retailer branded brochure is sufficient for most of your potential customers.
  10. Have a box of face masks available for customers, vendors, workers or anyone that might need one.
  11. Consider a staggered work schedule. Maybe you can schedule some work for the off hours to reduce the number of people at the job site.
  12. Incorporate a housekeeping routine into the work day. Make certain you build sufficient time to clean your work area, tools, keyboards, handles, etc., several times a day!

If you have any thoughts on how to better protect your workforce and customers, please share them with us! You can add a comment or email me directly (markconte3@yahoo.com).

The best information for the construction industry that I could find is from the web site for the National Association of Home Builders (nahb.org).

Click here to down load a copy of the coronavirus-jobsite-infection-prevention-measures

Stay Safe!