GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order last week which allows construction and other jobs with a low risk of infection to resume work on Thursday, May 7.
This comes as a huge sigh of relief for construction companies across the state. But, it also means learning a new way of doing things. The state is requiring construction sites to adopt a set of best practices to protect their workers from infection.
That includes things like:
- Designate a site supervisor to enforce COVID-19 control strategies.
- Conduct daily health screenings for workers.
- Create dedicated entry points, if possible, or issue stickers or other indicators to assure that all workers are screened every day.
- Identify choke points and high-risk areas (like hallways, hoists and elevators, break areas, water stations, and buses) and controlling them to enable social distancing.
- Ensure sufficient hand-washing or hand-sanitizing stations at the worksite.
“You know, a lot of it is what we're all experiencing. It's the social distancing acts. We've certainly had to work on hand sanitizers and hand wash stations and kind of eliminating a lot of common areas on construction sites but, says Chris Veneklasen, President of a.j. Veneklasen.
The company is full-service general contractor and builder headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Veneklasen says while some companies are completely shut down for nearly 2 months, His was able to keep some projects going.
“We kind of fell in at about 35% working and that’s because we have projects that are deemed essential. We have customers that might be in the food service industry or healthcare,” he says.
However, for the most part the industry took a huge hit, especially home builders whose projects were paused peak season.
Veneklasen tells me his company and others will feel the pressure to get back on track and stay there. But, says it could be a while before the construction industry, as a whole, bounces back from this.
“I expect there will be some supply chain pressures as well because you have suppliers who have been closed or not producing product. And then, we’ve had projects sitting in the pipeline that we are planning to start in May or June. Now, there will be a scramble to try and prep for that,” he says.
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- Whitmer signs executive order to reopen construction, real estate on May 7
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