As COVD-19 infection rates continue to wane in Massachusetts, the state’s residential construction trade group has debuted a set of pandemic-specific safety standards for homebuilders and remodelers throughout the state.

The Home Builders and Remodelers Association of Massachusetts (HBRAMA) hope the standards will head off concerns from municipal officials who may be nervous about allowing construction to restart in their communities, or who may be tempted to freeze construction anew if another surge of coronavirus cases hits later in the year.

“[It gives] municipal officials and members of the general public the peace of mind and knowledge that when the see work going on, they know it’s being done with safety,” HBRAMA board member and CapeBuilt Development president Rob Brennan said. “At the local level, you don’t have in-house staff who have the experience working in the trades and the ability to go out and say ‘How do we continue to do this work safely, both for the workers and the general public who’s just walking by.'”

Several municipalities rushed to implement construction freezes when the pandemic struck Massachusetts, despite housing construction being listed as an “essential service” in state guidance, amid fears the coronavirus could spread easily in an environment where workers often have to work physically side-by-side, where handwashing opportunities were rare and the world was grappling with shortages of personal protective equipment. Several prominent construction unions also organized work stoppages at the time to demand enhanced safety measures at job sites outside communities with construction freezes.

The association was less worried about smaller construction firms being unable to implement the Baker administration’s construction safety guidelines, Brennan said, because those requirements are adaptable across businesses of different sizes.

“Rather than having a dedicated COVID safety officer for each dedicated site you can have one for your entire company. They’re scalable” he said.

Construction firms can become certified in the plan via an online course developed by the association using a combination of standards from the state’s own COVID-19 workplace safety standards, the Center for Disease Control, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, input from a residential safety coalition lead by the National Association of Home Builders and the COVID-19 standards developed by HBRAMA. It includes customizable site-specific safety documentation, required work-site signage, daily safety checklists, employee notifications and more, the association said. Additionally, the course has been approved by the Board of Building Regulations and Standards to qualify for a one hour continuing education safety course for construction supervisor license-holders.

“The Home Builders Association and its members are committed to maintaining a safe environment on work sites throughout the state for employees, subcontractors and homeowners whether in new construction or remodeling,” HBRAMA President Matt Anderson said in a statement. “The production of the training course and it’s completion by designated site safety officers will help ensure that worksites are following the appropriate safety protocols which in turn should provide a high level of assurance not only to on-site workers but building officials and local health inspectors that appropriate precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are being understood and followed.”

Homebuilders Launch COVID Safety Course

by James Sanna time to read: 2 min