During a typical workday, small construction businesses such as roofers, homebuilders and renovation contractors already have plenty to worry about. Now add to those everyday concerns an enormous new one: the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although the Department of Homeland Security has designated construction companies as “essential infrastructure workforce,” this is advisory only and does not supersede state or local orders, which sometimes offer differing or even contradictory guidance on what’s essential and what isn’t. As of April 27, Iowa had issued no state restrictions on any businesses at all; Illinois’s and Wisconsin’s state governments have specifically deemed construction an essential business, allowing its continued operation.

To support those businesses, Spahn & Rose has remained open, offering touch-free pickup and job-site delivery. The one change we’ve made for job-site deliveries: Spahn & Rose drivers and other employees will now place building materials on the street, on a driveway or in an open garage only; they will not enter any construction site or home.

As Spahn & Rose is doing, contractors and homebuilders should take some smart, reasonable precautions while continuing to do business. The Iowa Department of Public Health recommends these prevention guidelines for essential businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Encourage flexible work-from-home and leave policies.
  • Consider staggering shifts to reduce the worker population at any given time.
  • Stagger breaks to reduce staff interactions.
  • Review procedures to identify ways to increase the physical separation of staff.
  • Prioritize hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette among employees.
  • Provide face masks or allow employees to wear their own homemade cloth masks.
  • Provide hand sanitizer or handwashing opportunities as frequently as possible.

To help, you can also post this placard from the Iowa Department of Public Health in your workplace.

For information about cleaning and sterilizing job sites, the National Association of Homebuilders shares these tips and resources:

  • Clean and disinfect frequently used tools and equipment on a regular basis. This includes other elements of the job site where possible. Employees should regularly do the same in their assigned work areas.
  • Clean shared spaces such as trailers and break/lunchrooms at least once per day.
  • Disinfect shared surfaces (such as door handles, machinery controls, etc.) on a regular basis.
  • Avoid sharing tools with coworkers. If you must share, disinfect tools before and after each use.
  • Arrange for any portable job-site toilets to be cleaned by the leasing company at least twice per week and disinfected on the inside.
  • Trash collected from the job site must be taken out frequently by someone wearing gloves.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that employers should do the following:

  • Measure employees’ temperature—ideally before they enter the job site—and assess any potential symptoms before they start work.
  • Require masks at all times while in the workplace. Employers can issue face masks or, in the event of shortages, can approve employees’ supplied cloth face coverings.
  • Maintain social distancing, allowing a minimum of six feet of space between people as work duties permit.
  • Clean and disinfect workspaces, especially common areas and shared electronic equipment and tools.
  • Send any sick employees home immediately. Also, consider anyone who came within six feet of the sick worker to be exposed.