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Inslee to allow construction projects to proceed

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Governor Jay Inslee, in consultation with the state's construction industry, announced a plan last Friday that allows current construction projects to be completed.

"I thank all those involved in the construction workgroup in helping us get to this decision in a responsible way that supports workers, businesses, and communities in a way that protects the health of all of their families and ours," Inslee said. "Our strategy is working and we need to keep with it. We would much rather protect people from sickness and death now, so that we don't have to go through this crisis all over again later."

The recommendations were informed by workers, contractors, health and safety experts, and local government officials, for safe construction standards. The requirements developed by the workgroup includes four provisions.

* Restart existing construction projects with COVID-19 safety plans that allow work which only can be performed while meeting social distancing requirements.

* Prior to recommencing work, all contractors are required to develop and post at each job site a comprehensive COVID-19 exposure control, mitigation and recovery plan.

* All contractors are required to post at each job site a written notice to employees, subcontractors and government officials the work that will be performed at that job site and a signed commitment to adhere to the requirements.

* All contractors have a general obligation to keep a safe and healthy job site in accordance with state and federal law.

There are also specific safety requirements.

A site-specific COVID-19 supervisor will be designated by the contractor at every job site to monitor the health of employees and enforce the COVID-19 job site safety plan.

A training must be conducted on all job sites on the first day of returning to work, and weekly thereafter, to explain the protective measures in place for all workers.

Social distancing of at least six feet of separation must be maintained by every person on the job site at all times.
Employers must provide personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, goggles, face shields and face masks as appropriate, or required, for the work being done.

The plan also includes proper sanitation and cleanliness for workers, as well as policies to encourage workers to stay home or leave the job site when they are sick.

The order includes public construction projects underway from the state Department of Transportation as well. WSDOT staff and contractors will implement similar protocols and crews will need to demonstrate how they will adhere to safety protocols and compliance.

The governor was joined by members of the Construction Roundtable working group for the announcement, including Greg Lane, Mark Riker, Mike Ennis, Josh Swanson, Dave D'Hondt, and Matt Swanson.

"My office and the Department of Commerce will convene stakeholder groups to develop plans similar to what we have seen with the Construction Roundtable, to have procedures in place when the time is right to modify restrictions," Inslee said. "Their work has served as a model for reaching consensus on strict safety guidelines. And this is how we intend to work with other industries and groups on eventually lifting restrictions on other sectors of the economy. We cannot yet say when more businesses will reopen because that will be driven by health data."

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