Protecting Your Team from Coronavirus

Protecting Your Team from Coronavirus

COVID-19 poses a huge threat to businesses and their employees in 2020, and contractors in the roofing industry are no different.

Roofing Industry Best Practices

Coronavirus (“COVID-19”) poses a huge threat to businesses and their employees in 2020, and contractors in the roofing industry are no different.

Although roofing work typically takes place outside and away from the general public - it does not mean your workforce is safe from the spread of this virus. Keeping the workforce safe during this pandemic is a key priority for every business and poses some unique challenges to our industry.

In this post, we pass along some practical guidance for roofing contractors to help keep your team as safe as possible during this public health crisis.

Note: The information contained herein is provided as a general guide only, and is not intended to take place of any applicable federal, state, and/or local laws, orders or regulations. It is based solely upon information prepared and made public by highly regarded public health, government and/or other professional organizations, and for which Momentive assumes no responsibility. Furthermore, as information pertaining to COVID-19, including that related to public health safety and best-practices, is subject to change, it is your responsibility to stay current with publicly available guidelines, as well as any changes to applicable laws, orders or regulations.

Basic Guidance

The essential guidelines for the safety of the general public apply to roofing contractors:

  • Wash hands frequently, using soap and water, for at least 20 seconds, (if unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol
  • Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands (especially the eyes, nose and mouth)
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when you have to go out in public
  • When in a private setting, cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the crook of your elbow
  • Stay home if sick, except to get medical care, and avoid contact with people and pets in your home - additional information on self-isolation when sick and returning to work can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/index.html
  • Additional information and updates can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus  

Specific Guidance - First Steps

There are a number of additional steps roofing contractors can take to mitigate the specific risks associated with roofing repair work.

Create a coronavirus policy

Creating a dedicated Coronavirus Policy (the “Policy”) outlining the working practices, risks and steps your team needs to take is an excellent starting point. This document should be updated regularly, in line with the latest advice from the CDC, and any applicable federal, state and local orders/guidelines.

Copies of the Policy should be sent electronically to all your team members to ensure they know what is expected of them, and the reasons behind any new requirements. This will help to minimize disruption and ensure compliance with the new ways of working.

Take additional measures for the protection of high-risk team-members

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), certain people are at increased risk for developing serious and potentially life-threatening complications from COVID-19. Potential factors for these individuals include age, and underlying medical conditions such as heart, lung and liver disease, diabetes, severe obesity, and compromised immune systems. Further information on these factors can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/people-at-higher-risk.html

It is extra important that these members of your workforce take precautions to reduce the risk of getting sick - and as a business, extra steps to protect these members may include altering their work practices, wherever possible, to minimize contact with other workers and to maximize the space between them, regardless of PPE and enhanced shielding that may be broadly in use.

Employees at serious risk may be able to claim paid leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act) - additional information about this can be found at https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-employee-paid-leave.

Digitize Your Business

Wherever possible, steps should be taken to minimize in-person contact between you, your team, your customers and the general public.

Moving as much communication online as possible is one effective way to support physical distancing:

  • Using phone, video conferencing and online communication tools for scheduling
  • Calling customers before arrival to enable contact-less site access
  • Sending all pictures, estimates, reports, contracts and invoices electronically
  • Communicating with teams and customers via video conferencing or phone
  • Assessing projects via customer video and pictures to minimize site visits
  • Sending and receiving payments electronically

Practical Safety - On-site Protection

Keeping distances

Taking steps to ensure safe working practices on-site is imperative. The current rule of thumb for adequate distancing is that individuals should stay at least 6ft away from one another at all times. The same principle should be applied to working practices, with team members maintaining a safe distance on-site at all times.

Other methods of maintaining a safe distance may include:

  • Arranging for external access to roofs
  • Restricting access to building interiors
  • Scheduling projects to prioritize tasks that can be achieved while distancing

Team/shift organization

One effective method for mitigating the potential spread of coronavirus is to identify/organize formal teams or smaller groups that operate in shifts whenever possible, and otherwise maintain complete separation between them at all possible times.

Handwashing and hygiene

Where possible, set up a dedicated handwashing station (or stations for teams working concurrently among other teams). If this is impractical for a particular project, then providing a plentiful supply of hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content may be an acceptable alternative.

Allowing for additional hygiene breaks and setting up dedicated policies to encourage regular handwashing is imperative.

Wearing gloves offers only limited protection and is not a substitute replacement for regular handwashing.

Regular Cleaning

COVID-19 has the potential to survive on surfaces for several days. For this reason, it is important that workplaces, surfaces and shared tools/items are sanitized regularly. These surfaces include:

  • Access points (door handles, bannister rails, ladders, scaffold, etc)
  • Tools (brushes, rollers, sprays, etc.)
  • Product (sealants, adhesives, finishes, etc)

Wherever possible, individual team member should not share tools, including sharing among separate teams. When unavoidable, such shared items should be properly sanitized prior to exchange with another team or team member.

Mask Usage

As of May 5th, 2020, CDC guidance on the use of face coverings included:

Everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public…”

As such, at a minimum, providing your workforce with cloth face coverings/masks to be worm at all times should be consider a best practice in helping reduce the potential for infection on site, as well as  to provide your workforce with additional reassurance. Additional information on the CDC recommendations can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cloth-face-cover.html.

For roofing repairs and applications that specifically require respiratory protection, employers may consider using alternative types of respirators that offer equal or greater protection to that of an N95 mask, as a way to support the available supply of these masks to front-line healthcare workers. Alternatives include National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health non-disposable, elastomeric respirators and powered, air-purifying respirators.

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