Improving safety for construction workers during COVID-19

A B.C. construction employer is ensuring workers maintain physical distancing and providing its sites with disinfecting kits during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Photo of COVID-19 compliance officer at worksite

RDC’s COVID-19 compliance officer at a worksite.
Photo credit: RDC Fine Homes/Bob Deeks

RDC Fine Homes is taking the lead on safety solutions for workers on construction sites during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bob Deeks, president of the Whistler-based company, posted on Twitter a photo of disinfecting kits ready for workers on all home building and renovation projects. To find out more, I gave him a call.

“We’re lucky that the province has agreed that construction is an essential service and we’re allowed to keep working,” Bob says. “But we do absolutely need to respect the guidelines that are in place. If we don’t, we put people at risk, and everybody in our industry needs to understand and respect that.”

He’s referring to the guidelines from B.C.’s Public Health Officer (PHO) to slow the spread of coronavirus. This includes frequent hand washing and physical distancing — keeping at least 2 metres (around 6.5 feet) away from other people. (See the orders, notices, and guidance on the B.C. government’s website.)

Staying safe and staying connected

Here are some of the measures RDC is taking to adhere to the PHO’s directions:

  • Designating a COVID-19 compliance safety officer (shown in picture above) who ensures workers are complying with physical distancing guidelines and distributes disinfecting kits to all worksites
  • To help with physical distancing, worksites are open only for single trades
  • Installing handwashing stations (with “how to” signage) at worksites without water supply (see how they work in this tweet)
  • Cleaning tools regularly to prevent virus transmission
  • Scheduling shifts to reduce the number of workers on site at the same time

“For a long time, RDC has really aspired to ensure that our workplaces are safe for everybody,” Bob says. “When we’re working at heights, for example, we have detailed practices for fall protection. We’re looking at COVID-19 in the exact same way. To stay open and continue working, we need to create a safe working environment.”

RDC’s project managers and administrative staff are working from home and using videoconferencing to keep in touch. All workers are also invited to a company huddle via video at 7:45 p.m. each day for updates. Plus, Bob posts a weekly video update on Twitter describing what RDC is doing to keep worksites safe and healthy.

Learn more

Bob will be sharing more information about what RDC is doing in this webinar, Construction Site Safety During COVID-19 — Builders’ Panel, hosted by Homebuilders Association Vancouver on Tuesday, April 7 from noon to 1 p.m. (registration required).

For more information on workplace health and safety during the COVID-19 outbreak, see COVID-19 information and resources from WorkSafeBC. Also see the BC Centre for Disease Control’s COVID-19 webpage for information about the virus, and how to protect yourself, your family, and your community.

Thank you to Bob and everyone else for their efforts to keep workers safe. And to everyone reading this post, I send my very best wishes for your health, strength, and resilience.

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