Government has set out a number of guidelines for the safe reopening of job sites across the island, following the outbreak of COVID-19. These guidelines are designed to minimize the risks associated with the disease.
Under the Occupational Safety at Work Act Cap. 356, employers are required to take steps to protect persons against risks to health and safety, in connection with the activities of the workplace.
Along with this existing legislation, the guidelines are designed to provide employers and workers with educational material and procedures to ensure that they are protected.
The Environmental Health Department of the Ministry of Health will be responsible for scrutinizing the infection, prevention and control measures, and the implementation of social distancing protocols and the monitoring of illness among employees at construction sites.
The protocols for all employees on the worksite are as follows:
- They must report their health status at the beginning of each workday.
- If they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever, cough, shortness of breath or loss of the sense of taste or smell, they must be excluded from the work site immediately, and sanitation operating procedures (SSOPs) need to be followed strictly.
- An employee, who is absent from work due to suspected COVID-19 symptoms, shall not return to work unless certified by a medical officer of health.
- On entering the worksite, employees’ hands must be washed or sanitized, and their temperature taken. If the reading is above 37.5 degrees Celsius or 99 degrees Fahrenheit, they will not be permitted on the worksite.
- Single-use masks must be provided, and workers encouraged to wear them on the job site.
- Single use masks must be discarded after each use, while cloth masks are to be washed at the end of each use. No mask must be worn for more than 4 hours at a time, and should be changed if it becomes damp. Disposable masks are recommended, as they are easier to regulate.
- Employees working in confined areas, or in conditions requiring them to be closer than three feet apart, those working with hazardous particles, such as cement or saw dust, are required to wear the N95 mask or other appropriate respirators.
- All employees are reminded to observe good hand and respiratory hygiene which involves washing their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, after using the bathroom, and before eating or smoking.
- Workers must refrain from spitting on the worksite, and should wear clean clothes to the job site each day.
Employers must have a register with the workers’ names, addresses and telephone numbers, which should be kept on the site, and contractors must keep a log of all persons entering the work area every day.
Regarding deliveries to the sites, all suppliers’ information must be logged, including the registration numbers of all vehicles. Delivery personnel must wash or sanitize their hands after every delivery where possible.
Workers queueing at the food van must also observe social distancing protocols, and where possible, lunch times should be staggered to avoid crowding in lunchrooms, or at food vans. Persons at break must also observe social distancing guidelines.
Contractors are encouraged to conduct their own risk assessment to determine the risk of exposure and eliminate those risks where possible.
Where the risk cannot be eliminated, administrative controls, such as social distancing, should be the next option. Where these are not possible, the requisite PPE must be provided.