North America’s Building Trades Unions issued specific advice for construction industry employers to protect IBEW members and other construction professionals from spreading the virus that causes COVID-19.
“Most of this is commonsense guidance that everyone should immediately take to heart,” said International President Lonnie R. Stephenson. “We’re thankful that our building trades partners are on the case alongside us, advising all of us in the industry about working as safely as possible during this complicated and rapidly evolving world crisis.”
In partnership with the Center to Protect Workers’ Rights, the NABTU recommends that construction employers:
- Plan for office staff to have the ability to work from home.
- Provide on all jobsites soap and running water for frequent handwashing.
- Provide hand sanitizer if access to soap and running water is not practical.
For construction workers on the job within health care facilities such as hospitals and nursing homes, the NABTU advises employers to offer the infection control risk assessment training provided by the CPWR.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has further COVID-19 guidance for employers.
Meanwhile, the NABTU also reminds all workers — including IBEW members in every one of the union’s branches — to continue taking the following disease-prevention steps:
- If you’re feeling sick, don’t go to work.
- If you don’t feel sick and decide to go to work, clean your hands often by washing them with soap and water (especially if your hands are visibly dirty) for at least 20 seconds, or by using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60%–95% alcohol.
- Wash your hands after using the restroom, before eating, and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Don’t shake hands when greeting others.
- Try to stay three to six feet away from others in gatherings, meetings and training sessions.
- Avoid contact with sick people.
Further, the building trades federations asks workers and employers alike to regularly check the CPWR’s COVID-19 resource page for updates, as well as official notices and guidance from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the CDC. Guidelines are changing quickly as the numbers of infected individuals grows, so visiting these sites every few days is advised to keep up on the latest guidance.
The IBEW and the National Electrical Contractors Association signed a National Disease Emergency Response Agreement on March 16 to advise IBEW construction members of their rights on the job during the COVID-19 crisis.