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COVID ‘5 W’s:’ Workforce, Worksites, Warehouse (supplies), Waivers, and What Next!

Member Forum Recap for May 20, 2020

Preventing worker exposure to coronavirus, protective measures that need to be taken on the jobsite, personal protective equipment and work practice controls to be used, cleaning and disinfecting procedures, and OSHA guidance on what to do if a worker becomes sick, including recordkeeping requirements, were the focus of today’s IECRM Member Forum.

Putting jobsite safety programs in place to protect employees, subcontractors and job site visitors against the spread of COVID-19 is essential, and contractors might have few options other than assuming everyone on the jobsite has been exposed. Evaluating the safety of job sites should be tailored for that specific site, but must generally include:

  • Social distancing requirements;
  • Minimizing congested staffing and staging work scheduling;
  • Implementing requirements for the use of PPE i.e. gloves, face coverings and/or face shields; 
  • Instituting heightened hygiene, sanitation and cleaning practices;
  • Regulating use and congestion in job trailers, elevators, and lunch and break areas; and
  • Daily monitoring of employee health, including taking employee temperatures.

Today’s three-part Member Forum subject matter experts and speakers included:

Financial and Legal Updates:

  • Pete A. Aden, CPA, CCIFP, Partner, Wipfli LLP
  • Curt Olson, CPA, CCIFP, Senior Audit Manager, Wipfli LLP
  • Kristin White, Attorney at Law, Fisher & Phillips, LLP

Workforce, Worksites, and Workflow:

  • Steve Daniel, Daniel Electric 
  • Mary Anne Parsons, Kelly Electrical Services
  • Jason Sharpe, Namaste Solar 

Warehouse: Supply, Distribution, Access to Materials, and Workflow

  • Erik Estes, Casey Bergquist 
  • Steve Gosciminski, Graybar 
  • Jay Commuso, iPro 
  • David Jones, QED 

Financial and Legal Updates

  • Newly released SBA guidance for PPP forgiveness applications includes a calculator for employers.  
  • The payroll calculation begins on the day an employer received the PPP to get to the full eight-weeks of payroll.
  • Banks are allowed to be the judge and jury and will seek accountability for how funds are used.  
  • Companies under the $2 million limit will receive special guidelines.
  • There also are considerations underway for extending the forgiveness period from 8 weeks to 10-12 weeks.
  • Whatever the time frame, employers will not be able to receive forgiveness beyond the designated number of weeks.  Otherwise, the loan will need to be repaid at a 1% interest rate.
  • June 30th is the date most companies are designating as the deadline to apply for PPP forgiveness.  However, applications may also be submitted in week 7.
  • Some banks have provided information on this but also advise to get the application processed ASAP after week 8.

Work Protocols Update

  • Temperature taking is now allowed; employees can do that at home and then report in.
  • Employers need to be sure to put this protocol in writing including who employees report the information to and how it will be recorded. 
  • If an employer is collecting more than just yes/no information, they must have a process in place that secures that information.
  • Temperature checks and a yes/no record should be sufficient to allow a worker to be on the job site.
  • Compliance with OSHA and Workers Compensation regulations also apply.
  • Creating a poster with protocol information, along with Workers Comp and OSHA notices, is recommended to remind all workers to follow procedures. Here is a sample from FisherPhillips.
  • In addition, OSHA has issued new guidance regarding COVID-19 in the workplace. This includes expansion of what employers must do when investigating if it is work-related when a worker tests positive for COVID-19.  Key questions include (1) how did the individual contract the virus; (2) who were they in contact with; (3) were family members involved; (4) what are the reporting requirements?
  • It’s essential that employers make a good faith effort to determine whether or not exposure in the workplace played more than a casual role.

Workforce, Worksites, and Workflow

  • Get the Colorado Department of Health COVID-19 Symptoms checklist. Regarding symptoms, employees must answer yes/no before going into the workplace. See this sample from FisherPhillips.
  • Beware of false negatives; individuals can be contagious for two days before exhibiting symptoms.
  • Policies such as staggered times in the field or at offices and worksites are advised.
  • Log information about temps and symptoms.
  • Make sure your company remains compliant and mindful of record-keeping to be prepared in the event of resurgence.

Warehouse: supply, distribution, access to materials, and Workflow

  • Figure out what is appropriate to going back into the field.
  • Sales calls with contractors are important, but many are not going out in the field.
  • Stay in touch with people via phone or Zoom.
  • Primary focus is supporting customers/contractors during this time
  • Quoting jobs has become complex and busy; quoting nearly double what they usually would for large projects. The big question is will these projects remain funded.
  • Contractors are feeling the pinch of competition; bidders are quadrupling.

 Final Comments:

  • Masks and headaches seem to be connected; chemical smells and sanitization can cause headaches.
  • Recruiting new hires is being done virtually; doing orientation in different ways with physical distancing in place.

Wrap-Up

  • IECRM tracks every inquiry about hiring, being on the hire list, borrowed worker list for those contractors who have had to lay people off or furlough them.
  • Make sure to call IECRM if you have a need for people, workers, assistance.  All members have access to IECRM’s hire list and borrowed worker list.

Next week’s forum (May 27): IECRM Monthly Safety Forum – OSHA Documentation with a Representative from OSHA as our subject matter expert.

The following week (June 3) we will focus on employee recognition as we prepare for the Summit Awards.  We will also discuss how we keep employees from getting fatigued mentally from the stress of COVID.

RSVP for upcoming Member Forums 

 

LINKS MENTIONED ON TODAY’S FORUM 

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