Dear TCA Members,
During this unprecedented time, you have risen to the call and instituted safety measures for your employees that include social distancing and other hygiene measures. Because the current COVID-19 health crisis presents a constantly changing set of circumstances, this letter is a call to revisit those safety protocols to ensure you are doing everything you can to keep your employees safe at your office and on project sites. As Texas begins to reopen, increased vigilance is necessary so that the construction industry does not disproportionately contribute to the expected rising numbers of positive cases.
As a part of the Governor’s process for reopening the state for business, he adopted a public health strategy to address the crisis: (1) increase testing; (2) isolate infected people; (3) find everyone who has been in contact with the infected person; and (4) quarantine all exposed contacts for 14 days.
A pivotal part of this strategy is to increase the number of contact tracers led by the Department of State Health Services. Contact tracers interview people who test positive for COVID-19 in order to find and inform people that may have been in contact with the person and thus at a higher risk for infection and the possible necessity for self-isolation/quarantine. Contact tracing also leads to the collection of data that can reveal geographic, demographic, or other types of “hot spots”. The state plan is to have 4,000 contact tracers working across the state by May 11th. This is exponentially more than were in place at the end of April.
Because construction is classified as an essential business, we have been able to continue our work for the duration of restrictive stay at home orders that have closed many other businesses. As a result, it is logical that the number of positive COVID-19 cases traced back to our industry may be more than some other industries. The hope is that due to ongoing safety protocols, the number of positive cases related to construction is low.
Please review your COVID-19 safety protocols now. Be aware of specific requirements that may apply to your job sites. At a minimum, you should abide by OSHA and CDC requirements for social distancing; personal hygiene; disinfection of common tools and spaces; and encouraging workers to stay at home if they, or someone are sick. Additionally, Dallas County, Travis County and the City of Austin have all adopted specific guidance for construction. Many cities and counties have also adopted mandatory face covering requirements. These and other suggested COVID-19 safety measures are available in the COVID-19 Update Section of our website.
I recognize that you can only control your employees’ COVID-19 exposure when they are working for you; however, it is important that we all do everything we can to keep our employees and their families as safe as possible. Be vigilant.
Thank you and stay safe,