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A Case of COVID on Your Construction Site

By on May 6, 2020

Despite taking all required and recommended precautions, there is still a chance that someone
on your site might test positive for COVID-19. If a worker on your site tests positive for COVID-19, there are steps you must take to ensure the health and safety of your workforce and to comply with the requirements established by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Most importantly, if any worker on your site is exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 such as fever,
cough, or shortness of breath, instruct them to leave the worksite immediately and to contact their healthcare provider. Once a worker is confirmed to be COVID-19 positive, the Massachusetts Department of Health or a local board of health will notify the people who were in close contact with the COVID-positive worker. The contractor or site supervisor will be required to work with the Department or local board of health to identify anyone who may have had close contact with the COVID-positive worker. These people may include other workers, vendors, inspectors, subcontractors or visitors to the work site. Any person who is deemed to have been in close contact with the COVID-positive worker should be sent home and should not return to the construction site for fourteen days. Any person who is subsequently confirmed to be COVID-19 positive should not return to work until cleared by their healthcare provider.

Once a supervisor becomes aware that one of their workers is COVID-positive, they must inform the designated site COVID-19 safety officer, the site safety officer (if different from the COVID-19 safety officer), and the owner of the project that there was a confirmed positive case of COVID-19 on site. Importantly, supervisors must keep the identity of the COVID-positive worker confidential in compliance with health information privacy laws.

Additionally, immediately after learning of a COVID-positive worker on-site, the site supervisor
or contractor should identify surfaces that the infected worker may have touched. These surfaces include high-contact areas like door handles and light switches, as well as supply cabinets, designated work stations, shared tools and equipment, and common areas such as bathrooms, break rooms, tables, vending machines. The contractor or site supervisor must use personnel, equipment, and material approved for COVID-19 sanitization to thoroughly disinfect all identified surfaces and areas. Workers may, but are not required to be sent home during this cleaning. It’s important that healthy workers not return to these areas until the sanitization process is complete and it is deemed safe to enter.

A positive case of COVID-19 is not in and of itself cause for a town or municipality to shut down
a construction site. However, if the town or municipality determines that your construction site is not in compliance with COVID-19 safety requirements, or that you are unable to comply with the safety requirements, the town or municipality may shut down your project for the duration of the state of emergency. Therefore, it is important to make sure your site is in full compliance with all guidelines and regulations in order to keep your site up and running.

Meghan Hayes
Ms. Hayes is a 2019 graduate of Boston University School of Law. While in law school, Ms. Hayes worked with the New York State Attorney General’s Office, the Erie County Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers’ Project, and a prominent tort litigation firm in the greater Boston area.
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About Meghan Hayes

Ms. Hayes is a 2019 graduate of Boston University School of Law. While in law school, Ms. Hayes worked with the New York State Attorney General’s Office, the Erie County Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers’ Project, and a prominent tort litigation firm in the greater Boston area.