On May 1, 2020, construction resumed in Pennsylvania under the guidelines issued by the Wolf Administration. The guidelines provide universally applicable safety practices for all construction activity, along with specific requirements for residential, commercial and public projects.
All construction projects must also comply with the Order of the Secretary of Health on April 15, 2020 for businesses that are permitted to maintain in-person operations during the shelter in place, as well as the Order of the Secretary of Health issued on April 5, 2020 for building safety measures. This means that, in addition to the industry specific guidelines, a construction company/contractor must comply with the following:
(1) Establish protocols to follow if there is an incident of COVID-19 exposure or a probable/confirmed case;
(2) Require every person to wear a face mask or some type of face covering (unless they have a medical reason that prevents the wearing of such mask);
(3) Maintain social distancing unless there is a specific activity that requires greater proximity for the safety of the workers and the public;
(4) Provide handwashing and sanitizing stations for workers;
(5) Maintain cleaning and sanitizing protocols for high risk transmission areas; and
(6) Have a “pandemic safety officer.” If the project involves large-scale construction, then each contractor on the jobsite must identify a “pandemic safety officer.”
Jobsites should also establish screening procedures based on guidance by the Center for Disease Control and guidance issued by the United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
In addition to all of the requirements in the foregoing section, all residential construction projects, including new construction, renovation and repair, can commence on May 1, 2020. Additionally, for residential projects, there can only be up to four individuals on a jobsite at any time. Exterior workers will not count against the four-workers-per-jobsite limit. This does not include individuals who are not directly engaged in the construction activity and only need temporary access to the jobsite, such as delivery persons and code inspectors.
All commercial construction projects, including new construction, renovation, and repair, are authorized to conduct in-person operations subject to the requirements listed above. Furthermore, for commercial and non-residential projects, the number of individuals on an enclosed jobsite will vary depending on the size of the enclosed site. On jobsites of 2,000 square feet or less, no more than four individuals are permitted. For each additional 500 square feet of enclosed area over 2,000 square feet, one additional person is permitted. “Enclosed square footage” includes all areas under the roof that are under active construction at the time. Commercial construction firms should consider strongly establishing a written Safety Plan with site specific details for each work location.
Please note that contractors should defer to the political subdivisions or entities, including school districts, to determine what projects will resume operations in May 2020.
If you have questions about this or any other construction matter, please contact Frank J. Vargish, III at firstname.lastname@example.org or 717-509-7276.
**This update is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or as creating an attorney-client relationship where one does not already exist. This article was published on May 7, 2020. Please be aware that the laws and regulations related to the COVID-19 pandemic are being updated rapidly. Please check back or contact us for the most up-to-date information.**