Governor Jay Inslee has announced that low-risk construction work will be allowed to resume, provided businesses adhere to safety guidelines developed by a state work group. After more than a month of the work being labeled a “nonessential activity,” building industry groups say the policy change opens up the majority of construction work.
“The overall feeling…is one of relief,” Master Builder Association of King and Snohomish County (MBAKS) Media Manager Nona Raybern said.
“Everybody is just happy to get back to work,” Building Industry Association of Washington Communications Director Jennifer Spall said. “They’re going to get creative on it to keep projects on time.”
Inslee’s new order on April 24 follows the guidelines created by a state work group convened at the beginning of the month composed of builders, labor unions and state officials. The group recommended opening the industry in phases, the first consisting of low-risk activity that allows workers to remain six feet apart. Construction sites will also require safety plans, mitigation plans and personal protective equipment for workers. Worker temperatures will also be checked.
Inslee said the work group will be “a good template as we move forward” and look at ways to open other business sectors. “This process has got us where we know that hard working people of good faith can reach good agreements as we rebuild our state.”
Spall said with those guidelines most construction projects can continue, though “it depends on what is being built and what kind of site.”
As to how soon builders will be able to resume work, Raybern said it will “largely depend on compliance with the governor’s construction group guidelines, which businesses have really prepared ahead of time by stocking up on PPE and thermometers and different ways to measure…health.” MBAKS has also developed a Covid-19 construction guide for its members.
As this component of construction commences, the next step will involve creating a plan for the types of projects that require workers to be physically close to each other.