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The hammer comes down on construction to slow coronavirus spread among workers

Construction workers on Friday were busy building an apartment complex in the Palms neighborhood of Los Angeles.
(Andrew Khouri / Los Angeles Times)

Amid concerns that construction workers are being exposed to coronavirus, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced new guidelines that will require all construction sites to create a “COVID-19 exposure control plan.”

Protocols should include symptom checks, physical distancing, hygiene and decontamination, Garcetti said.

“As most of our city has stayed home or changed the way of doing business, much of our construction program has continued,” he said, adding that it is important to continue critical infrastructure but “never at the risk of anyone’s life.”

City inspectors will visit work sites to enforce safety procedures, he added.

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“We will not be shy about shutting down construction sites that do not comply,” Garcetti said. “So comply.”

Many California businesses have shuttered to limit the spread of the coronavirus, but construction continues after being deemed essential.

Over the weekend, an unidentified construction worker at SoFi Stadium, the future home of the NFL’s Rams and Chargers, tested positive for COVID-19, and another on Monday was said to be “presumed positive.”

SoFi and other construction projects are considered critical infrastructure and are, therefore, exempt from the state’s safer-at-home orders. But as work continues, concerns have grown.

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Bay Area counties this week announced the end to many types of construction work in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Garcetti acknowledged that staying at home and social distancing have been “tough” for Angelenos and that “life feels fundamentally changed.”

“The deeper we abide by these rules, the quicker this can be over,” he said. “These are not ordinary times. Everyone has to keep making these temporary sacrifices for the common good.”

Here are the new construction site guidelines:

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1. Practice social distancing by maintaining a minimum 6-foot distance from others.

2. Preclude gatherings of any size, and anytime two or more people must meet, ensure a minimum 6-foot separation.

3. Provide personal protective equipment such as gloves, goggles, face shields and face masks as appropriate for the activity being performed.

4. The owner/contractor shall designate a site-specific COVID-19 supervisor to enforce this guidance. A designated COVID-19 supervisor shall be present on the construction site at all times during construction activities. The COVID19 supervisor can be an on-site worker who is designated to carry this role.

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5. Identify “choke points” and “high-risk areas” where workers are forced to stand together, such as hallways, hoists and elevators, break areas, and buses, and control them so social distancing is maintained.

6. Minimize interactions when picking up or delivering equipment or materials, ensure minimum 6-foot separation.

7. Stagger the trades as necessary to reduce density and maintain minimum 6-foot separation social distancing.

8. Discourage workers from using other workers’ phones, desks, offices, work tools and equipment. If necessary, clean and disinfect them before and after use.

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9. Post, in areas visible to all workers, required hygienic practices including not touching face with unwashed hands or with gloves; washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; use of hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, cleaning AND disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces such as workstatons, keyboards, telephones, handrails, machines, shared tools, elevator control buttons and doorknobs; covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing as well as other hygienic recommendations by the CDC.

10. Place wash stations or hand sanitizers in multiple locations to encourage hand hygiene.

11. Require anyone on the project to stay home if they are sick, except to get medical care.

12. Have employees inform their supervisor if they have a sick family member at home with COVID-19.

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13. Maintain a daily attendance log of all workers and visitors.


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