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04/24/2020

Construction in Pennsylvania to resume May 1; read the commercial guidelines

Marianne Wilson
Editor-in-Chief
Marianne Wilson profile picture
Construction workers

The only state to shut down all active public and private construction sites amid the COVID-19 pandemic is lifting its ban.

Construction in Pennsylvania is slated to resume on May 1, according to Gov. Tom Wolf. The Keystone State halted almost all construction work, except for projects considered essential, related to healthcare facilities, or by companies who received a waiver to continue from the state, on March 21 when Wolf closed all businesses his administration deemed non-life sustaining as part of the plan to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

All businesses in the construction industry are permitted to return to in-person operations on Friday, May 1, one week earlier than originally expected. The return to work includes a hefty list of guidelines, including requiring workers to wear safety masks or face protection, practice social distancing and work in staggered shifts.

Construction companies are also required to provide handwash stations, implement stringent cleaning, limit tool sharing and conduct more virtual meetings, among other protocols. The regulations were developed from guidance created by the General Contractors Association of Pennsylvania and provides additional direction for residential, commercial and public construction projects.

Here are the guidelines for commercial construction. 

•    All commercial construction projects including new construction, renovation, and repair are authorized to conduct in-person operations; however, enclosed projects or portions of enclosed projects, may not permit more than four persons on job sites of 2,000 square feet or less, and 

•    One additional person is allowed for each additional 500 square feet of an enclosed area over 2,000 square feet. These numbers are inclusive of employees of both prime and sub-contractors, but not inclusive of delivery persons, code inspectors, or similar persons who require temporary access to the site and are not directly engaged in the construction activity. Enclosed square footage shall include all areas under a roof that are under active construction at the time. 

•    Commercial construction firms, including particularly those managing large-scale construction projects, should consider strongly establishing a written Safety Plan for each work location containing site-specific details for the implementation of this guidance to be shared with all employees and implemented and enforced by the designated Pandemic Safety Officer.