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Are Construction Sites Doing Enough To Keep Workers Safe?

Workers install a new roof, Wednesday, March 25, 2020, in Parma Heights, Ohio.
Tony Dejak
Workers install a new roof, Wednesday, March 25, 2020, in Parma Heights, Ohio.

It appears area contractors are making an effort to protect construction workers at job sites but are those extra measures enough to prevent COVID-19?

Skanska is out with additional health and safety measures for worksites and shared this document with WVXU. It is the contractor for the new MedPace building in Madisonville and other local projects. The new guidelines include:

  • Additional alcohol-based hand sanitizer and wash stations
  • Requiring and enforcing social distancing
  • Enforcing a zero-tolerance policy for working while sick
  • Increased and enhanced sanitization by a third party
  • Mandating the use of coated gloves at all times
  • Mandating additional PPE where construction activity does not permit social distancing
  • New screening measures at job site entry gates

Turner Construction is  building FC Cincinnati's new stadium. General Manager David Spaulding says, the company "has in place robust measures to keep all workers safe on our site." It's started "temperature-scanning procedures," to detect potential infection and minimize the spread of the virus. Also, Turner says it is staggering trade arrival and departure times, and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces.

WVXU also reached out to Messer Construction (who is building CVG's rental car facility) and did not hear back in time for this story.

What Are Workers Saying?

While construction workers haven't filed any official grievances with the Northern Kentucky Health Department and possibly the Cincinnati Health Department (WVXU is still waiting to hear back), some have apparently complained to their unions.

Executive Secretary of the Greater Cincinnati Building and Construction Trades Council Fred Lampe says the union representatives have followed up. "I have heard of situations where that person has gone to the job site to see if things are being done correctly and I've heard some positive stories in a sense that more tools have been provided to limit the sharing of tools," he says.

Lampe says contractors are also providing more tool boxes. They are usually shared by a number of workers. While social distancing is difficult in some cases, Lampe says, at least during breaks and lunchtime, crews can sit in their cars.

Still, some workers have concerns. Lampe says since construction work is deemed essential they have to show up. "Many of our jobs are (essential). We're working on hospitals and businesses critical to stay open, but our members are, I guess... we're facing a little criticism in a sense from our members. (They're) wondering why we didn't lobby to have jobs shut down."

Meanwhile, contractors did lobby nationally to keep projects going in the midst of COVID-19.

One ODOT project has been delayed two weeks, according to spokesman Matt Bruning. A Toledo contractor said too many employees were ill.

Copyright 2021 91.7 WVXU. To see more, visit 91.7 WVXU.

With more than 30 years of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market, Ann Thompson brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting. She has reported for WKRC, WCKY, WHIO-TV, Metro Networks and CBS/ABC Radio. Her work has been recognized by the Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2019 and 2011 A-P named her “Best Reporter” for large market radio in Ohio. She has won awards from the Association of Women in Communications and the Alliance for Women in Media. Ann reports regularly on science and technology in Focus on Technology.