North America’s Building Trades Unions (“NABTU”) and CPWR-The Center for Construction Research and Training (NABTU’s research arm) on April 27 publicly released COVID-19 Standards for U.S. Construction Sites. The document provides recommended practices for construction employers to implement at job sites designed to prevent disease, disability, and death caused by exposure to infectious disease. The practices include staff training, symptom checking, social distancing, personal hygiene, and decontamination measures.
Upon invitation to comment on a draft of the standards, AGC CEO Steve Sandherr sent a letter to NABTU President Sean McGarvey commending the building trades for the “thoughtful and comprehensive approach to protecting workers and the public from exposure to the COVID-19 virus.” The letter notes that AGC has developed a COVID-19 safety tool kit with standards very similar to NABTU-CPWR’s.
However, AGC’s letter raises concerns about three particular features in the NABTU-CPWR standards:
- AGC expressed concern about the recommendation that employers check workers’ temperatures with thermometers as the procedure could increase the risk of exposure to infection while straining the supply of masks and raising the risk of lawsuits;
- While AGC agrees with the recommendation for staggered work schedules, AGC disagrees with NABTU-CPWR’s statement that the “recommendation for shifting individual employees should be at the sole discretion of the Local Business Manager or their representative.”
- AGC recognizes that requiring workers to cover their mouths and noses is an important step in preventing the spread of COVID-19, but expressed concern about NABTU-CPWR’s recommendation regarding expanded use of respirators.
In AGC’s letter and in a reply letter from Mr. McGarvey, AGC and NABTU each expressed interest in working together further toward the common goal of worker safety