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New Mandatory Safe Workplace Rules for Construction Sites in Connecticut - Executive Order 7V

April 9, 2020

On April 7th, Governor Lamont issued Executive Order 7V, which, among other things, mandates that all essential businesses within the state take additional protective measures to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in accordance with “legally binding statewide rules” issued by the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) and the Department of Public Health (DPH).  While Executive Order 7V itself is relatively short, the Order is clear that the DECD and DPH rules are “binding” on essential businesses and “shall be mandatory throughout the state, for essential businesses and nonprofits and any other business or nonprofit permitted to operate.”

By way of background, Executive Order 7H, issued on March 20, 2020, required that all “non-essential businesses” and not-for-profit entities reduce their in-person workforce by 100%, but confirmed that “essential businesses,” which includes businesses in the construction industry, would be allowed to remain open.

Safe Workplace Rules for Construction Sites

The DECD and DPH rules, released shortly after Executive Order 7V on April 7th, provide general mandates applicable to all essential businesses.  For example, the rules provide that all essential employees who are able to work from home should be working from home, eliminate all non-essential workplace travel and in-person meetings, and require frequent cleaning of all touch points.  A more in-depth discussion of the rules generally applicable to all essential businesses, as well as the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) “Top 10” list of additional tips employers should be following issued earlier this week, is available here

However, the rules also include additional mandates specific to construction sites, including:

  • Clean portable bathrooms no less than every 2 days.
  • Require employees to travel separately to and from, and within, worksites.
  • Reschedule work to maximize the amount of work being performed outdoors, and limit indoor or work lacking significant fresh air.
  • Shift work to limit the size of the crews on the jobsite, especially indoors.
  • Rotate lunch and coffee break shifts, requiring workers to follow the CDC social distancing guidelines during meals or breaks.
  • Follow all safety and health protocols when using an elevator.
  • Provide an adequate supply of personal protective equipment, or PPE, including but not limited to masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer.

Governor Lamont indicated at an April 7th press conference that the Department of Labor will visit big companies to determine compliance with these rules and asked employees to help monitor smaller companies.  Thus, while these rules likely are a significant departure from current practices on any given jobsite, each business should do their best to implement these new safety measures as soon as possible.  Because it may take some time to implement some of these rules -- including, for example, obtaining PPE during a national shortage -- we recommend documenting your efforts to comply with the rules in detail.

As always, we are here to help navigate the ever-changing rules and orders being issued on the state and federal level during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Please feel free to contact us with any questions.

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