New Jersey Construction Update

As cases of coronavirus continue to rise and are currently at an all-time high in the US, many states are cracking down on restrictions – New Jersey included. As of November 17, indoor and outdoor gatherings are even more limited. For indoor, up to 10 people and for outdoor up to 150 people may be gathered together (while still social distancing, of course). So what does this mean for the construction industry in New Jersey?

On October 24, 2020, Governor Murphy signed Executive Order 192, protecting New Jersey’s workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic. Under EO-192 all employees, customers, and visitors must wear a face covering while on the premises (this goes for both indoor and outdoor). The only exceptions to this rule are individuals under the age of two and where it is impractical to wear a face covering. For example, when eating or drinking. Additionally, employers may permit employees to remove their face covering when they are at their workstation at least six feet away from others or if it would create an unsafe condition in which to operate equipment or execute a task.

Both Executive Order 192 and Executive Order 142 outline requirements to protect employees and others. Here is a summary of both in relation to the New Jersey construction industry. 

Construction projects must adopt policies that include, at a minimum, the following requirements:

  • Prohibit non-essential visitors from entering the work site;
  • Require individuals at the worksite to maintain at least six feet of distance from one another, to the maximum extent possible;
  • Engage in appropriate social distancing measures when picking up or delivering equipment or materials;
  • Stagger work start and stop times where practicable to limit the number of individuals entering and leaving the worksite concurrently;
  • Identify congested and “high-risk areas,” including but not limited to lunchrooms, breakrooms, portable restrooms, and elevators, and limit the number of individuals at those sites concurrently where practicable;
  • Stagger lunch breaks and work times where practicable to enable operations to safely continue while utilizing the least number of individuals possible at the site;
  • Businesses may adopt policies that require staff to wear gloves, in addition to regular hand hygiene. Where a business requires its staff to wear gloves while at the worksite, the business must provide such gloves to staff.
  • Ensure that employees practice hand hygiene and provide employees with sufficient break time for that purpose;
  • Provide approved sanitization materials for employees and visitors at no cost to those individuals;
  • Where running water is not available, provide portable washing stations with soap and/or alcohol-based hand sanitizers that have greater than 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol;
  • Routinely clean and disinfect all high-touch areas in accordance with DOH and CDC guidelines;
  • Prior to each shift, conduct daily health checks, such as temperature screenings, visual symptom checking, self-assessment checklists, and/or health questionnaires, consistent with CDC guidance;
  • Do not allow sick employees to enter the workplace and follow the requirements of applicable leave laws;
  • Promptly notify employees of any known exposure to COVID-19 at the worksite;
  • Clean and disinfect the worksite in accordance with CDC guidelines when an employee at the site has been diagnosed with COVID-19 illness;
  • Limit sharing of tools, equipment, and machinery;
  • When the worksite is an occupied residence, require workers to sanitize work areas and keep a distance of at least six feet from the occupants;
  • Place conspicuous signage at entrances and throughout the worksite detailing the above mandates.

It’s worth noting that the list above is simply a summary. Businesses are still required to fully comply with all of the terms within EO-192 and EO-142. Be sure that you read the full guidance carefully to ensure that you are complying!

Things are looking up

On a happier note, the construction industry continues to be resilient in the face of this pandemic. While there was a deep drop in employment at the beginning, 84,000 jobs were added in October, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is the largest monthly increase since June. There is still more to be done but we can celebrate the small wins and stay hopeful that more and more jobs become available as the months go on.

NJSPE will continue to update you and new information becomes available from the Governor. Stay up-to-date on njspe.org. If you’re an NJSPE member, keep an eye on your email for breaking updates. If you’re not a member, what are you waiting for? Learn more about our membership benefits and join today!

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