Covid-19’s impact on the construction industry has forced businesses into taking unprecedented measures to protect their employees. This panel discusses equipment shop cleanliness during the Covid-19 pandemic, and how shop managers are ensuring the health and safety of their workers during Covid-19.
Read the full-length Shop Cleanliness article here.
Although mainstream efforts such as social distancing and wearing personal protection equipment (PPE) are important, managers are finding that additional actions are necessary, such as daily health checks and disinfection.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), employees with a temperature of 100.4 F or more should be sent home. The CDC also recommends screeners make a visual inspection of the employee for signs of illness, such as flushed cheeks.
“If someone is very symptomatic—has a fever, cough, and sore throat—we’ll ask them to do a 14-day quarantine,” says Luke Heldt, shop manager at Traylor Equipment. “But if their symptoms are minimal, we ask them to monitor their condition from home.”
If symptoms dissipate within three days, and at least seven days have passed since symptoms began, workers may return to the shop.
CDC also says the coronavirus may remain on various surfaces for hours or days. It recommends disinfecting workstations and the inside of equipment cabs daily, sometimes multiple times. Most EPA-registered household disinfectants and diluted household bleach solutions are effective.
Some shops opt for a bleach cleaning solution. A designated worker sprays commonly touched surfaces in the shop every few hours. To safely disinfect machines and spaces, workers across several shops wear gloves appropriate for the chemicals being used.
At General Equipment and Supplies, a technician who was considered “higher risk” contracted Covid-19. Higher-risk individuals are usually identified as older, or immunocompromised in some capacity.
“After he tested positive, we brought in a professional cleaning service,” said Jon Shilling, the dealership’s president. “They came in and sprayed down everything he came in contact with.”
Hiring professionals brings extra cleanliness. It also brings peace of mind to team members when you’re taking steps to ensure the environment is safe for work.
Common areas also require attention. This includes break areas, lunchrooms, locker rooms, tool rooms, and offices.
“Anything that’s multiple-use has to be cleaned and disinfected daily,” says Michael Brennan, CEM, CDMB Consultants, and Equipment Executive columnist for Construction Equipment. “And if they’re operating within multiple shifts to enforce social distancing, they should be disinfecting between shifts.”
New health and safety regulations have challenged essential workers around the country. Daily health checks are now part of the “new norm,” along with disinfection. As equipment managers continue to monitor the ongoing situation, these regulations may alter the way their staff works far into the future.
“I think at this point, given the gravity of the situation, the rules have developed in a very short period,” says Brennan. “Hopefully the end is near. We have to see how this unfolds over the next few months.”