Working in construction during the coronavirus pandemic has split the industry down the middle, according to a report by ABC News. On one hand, buildings, roads, and utilities need regular maintenance and upgrades. At the same time, those small worksites and sometimes unsanitary conditions are “ripe for exposure to the virus,” ABC reports.
Advocates of workers safety issues have called on the government to come up with immediate solutions to address both issues before they create a deeper economic and public health problem. The Laborers’ International Union of North America, which has half a million members in North America, sent a letter to congressional leaders on Tuesday urging them to come up with a relief plan for construction workers.
Some recommendations include family and medical leave for their members, and a new emergency safety standard for work during the outbreak.
“Things like a lack of clean toilets and sinks to tight lifts and a lack of personal protective equipment raise the chances that the workers will contract COVID-19, according to Jeanne Stellman, a professor at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, who specializes in workers safety issues. Stellman warned that the country should learn the lessons from the excavation and extraction work that took place at Ground Zero after 9/11 when workers were not protected from the poisonous atmosphere.”