Running your construction business during the coronavirus crisis can present difficulties and confusion. Depending on where you do business and the type of work you do, you could be forced to stop work or modify your jobs in response to COVID-19.
We’ve been following closely, and have some suggested best practices to protect you, your employees, your clients, and your business operations.
Follow federal and local government recommendations
This is a fast-moving crisis that varies by community, so it’s important to stay current on recommendations for construction businesses from the federal government and your local government agencies that are responding to the coronavirus in your community.
The Center for Disease Control offers general safety guidelines. Check with trade organizations to see if they have any specific recommendations for your construction business.
Limit person-to-person contact
Coronavirus infections are spread through person-to-person contact, which means it’s crucial to forgo normal business etiquette such as shaking hands with clients. Try to hold more business functions, like client consultations or planning, over the phone or with video conferencing rather than onsite.
If possible, postpone upcoming jobs that may put you or your employees at risk until after the crisis has ended. Try to focus on aspects of your work that limit or do not include human interactions, such as project planning, blueprint drawing, permits, payroll, inventory/supplies ordering, and remote/online employee safety training.
If you do postpone a job, make sure the jobsite is secured before a prolonged absence:
- Remove tools and equipment and store them in a secure location to avoid theft.
- Protect any unfinished/exposed work from the elements, particularly water damage.
Try to avoid working in a residence or business that is occupied
If the building is occupied at your residential or commercial project, confirm that all occupants of the building are not exhibiting signs of respiratory illness before entering. Try to make arrangments to do your work when other people are not there.
Strict disinfection protocols are key
If you come into contact with the virus inadvertently, you could unknowingly spread it from jobsite to jobsite if you are not taking the proper precautions.
These steps can help you avoid coronavirus infections at your construction sites and offices:
- Regularly disinfect commonly touched items. For example: tools, equipment, light switches, doorknobs, car door handles, ladders, and toolboxes.
- Disinfect items that you are installing that your client may come into contact with, including appliances, light fixtures, sinks, furniture, doors, or windows.
- For disinfectants, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application and proper ventilation. Check to ensure the product is not past its expiration date. Never mix bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser. Unexpired household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted.
- Pay attention to disinfectant “dwell time,” or the time the disinfectant or bleach solution remains on a surface before wiping or rinsing. This affects how well a disinfectant kills germs and viruses. Check the label for specific instructions for dwell time.
- Take steps to protect high-risk employees and clients. If you have employees in high-risk groups, allow them time off to avoid exposure. Encourage clients who may fall into these same categories to reschedule projects as well.
Project interruption and unfinished work risks
Depending on how the coronavirus is affecting your community, your business may be subject to shelter-in-place orders and supply chain interruptions. There is a risk that your company’s projects could go unfinished in the short term and experience lengthy delays.
Here are some tips to better manage these circumstances:
Create a contingency plan
Be proactive and come up with a plan for how you will handle each current project if your local government enacts stricter measures. Make sure this plan is communicated to your clients and all employees and subcontractors.
Maintain an open dialogue with your clients and suppliers
Update your clients on possible delays and how these unforeseen circumstances will affect the project. Your clients will most likely be understanding, but clear communication is important to manage their expectations.
Talk to your supply reps about concerns they see on the horizon. Check to see if there is limited availability on certain supplies or materials that could affect your projects. It may be prudent to order early or start looking for alternatives.
Also, be prepared for the likelihood that local governments will experience delays with permitting and inspections.
Next Insurance supports construction businesses during the coronavirus crisis
As you deal with the uncertainty of the coronavirus crisis, we are standing by to assist with any business insurance questions you may have. Visit our dedicated webpage for construction business insurance to learn more about the coverages that can protect your business.
We are 100% committed to supporting your needs during this difficult time.