We have a positive COVID-19 case on our job site. What do we do?
By: CSSI Staff

In this section, we are sharing a best practices document that was shared with us from AGC of America. Thanks to them, we are able to provide this guidance in what to do if you have a positive case of COVID-19 on the job site. In addition, we strongly recommend the continued guidance put out by the CDC and Iowa Department of Public Health.
If you have a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19, you are encouraged to take the following steps.

1. Remove the infected, or potentially infected, employee from the workplace or jobsite:  Before the employee departs, ensure you have a full list of affected employees who should be sent home (i.e., individuals who worked in close proximity (three to six feet) with them in the previous 14 days). For suspected cases, take the same precautions and treat the situation as if the suspected case is a confirmed case for purposes of sending home potentially infected employees.

2. Contact the local public health department . If you have a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19, you should contact the local public health department to report the situation and to get any advice from the department on steps to take to handle the situation.

3. Ensure a medical evaluation is completed:  The employee should contact their primary care physician to discuss the symptoms that they are experiencing and follow any orders given.

4. Investigate : Just as you would investigate a workplace injury (i.e., slip and fall), you must do the same for COVID-19, suspected or confirmed cases, and document your investigation. Investigating will also assist with the determination of work-relatedness of the confirmed case or exposure.COVID-19 can be a recordable illness if a worker is infected as a result of an event or exposure in the work environment. However, employers are only responsible for recording cases of COVID-19 if all of the following are met:
  • The case is a confirmed case of COVID-19 (see CDC information on persons under investigation and presumptive positive and laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19);
  • The case is work-related, as defined by 29 CFR 1904.5; and
  • The case involves one or more of the general recording criteria set forth in 29 CFR 1904.7 (e.g., medical treatment beyond first-aid, days away from work).

5. Identify corrective actions : These items will include what measures should be put into place to prevent further spreading of the virus on the jobsite or in the workplace as well as future occurrences. Such measures may include the cleaning and sanitizing of the work area(s) and/or tools (hand and power) as well as reinforcing the guidelines for prevention outlined by CDC with others in the workplace and on the jobsite.

6. Establish a procedure to follow up : Communicate with both affected and non-affected employees on the status of the suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case, but do not communicate the name of affected individuals or specific medical diagnoses. Where there is a confirmed case of COVID-19, affected employees should be notified and encouraged to seek medical attention. If a suspected case tests negative, affected employees should be notified and encouraged to return work.
How Can You Improve Your Safety Culture?
Productivity is imperative to balancing profit and losses. The cost of equipment, materials, and most importantly, the cost of someone getting injured or killed can deteriorate the budget of any corporation. Safety is an element that is constantly evolving and improving, which brings new challenges to contractors for compliance with the safety standards and to provide a safe and healthy work environment for all their employees.  

“Safety is our number one priority!” How many times does your company say this or statements similar to this? Without an effective safety culture, this phrase is merely a statement. What steps does your company take to show employees that safety is truly the number one priority? Often, safety is the first to be cut in budget planning, which can be detrimental to safety culture. Your company may provide outstanding training, fully OSHA compliant, and your workplace is free of safety hazards. However, these are only the basics to an effective safety culture. For any company to stay successful, they have to be willing to stay up to date on regulations and consistently find innovative methods to educate their employees.

The goal should always be to move "the safety needle" in a positive direction to protect workers within your company. It is always encouraging for contractors to continually seek to take safety programs beyond compliance and instill a company-wide culture of safety. To accomplish this, it needs to start with upper management getting involved. If you want to show employees that safety matters, then participate in safety meetings, safety audits, or trainings held throughout the year. 

When it comes to the safety culture of a company, and finding ways to improve, there are a few key components to emphasize. A few of those components are:
1. Setting Goals:  Setting short term and long term goals are imperative. When setting goals, it is important to set SMART goals.  
           S - Specific: What do you want to accomplish and set deadlines
           M - Measurable:  Provide a way to evaluate and track the goal
           A - Attainable: Work towards a goal that is challenging but possible to accomplish
           R - Realistic:  Make sense within your job function. Can you realistically achieve it?
           T - Time-bounded : State when you'll get it done and be specific on the date or timeframe

2. Recognition and Celebrate Safety Achievements:  When goals are met or when employees are found for extraordinary efforts towards safety. Achieving goals puts employees in a position of feeling a sense of accomplishment. The achievement of goals is worth recognizing, and it serves to drive the same results in the future. Try taking workers out to lunch after meeting a goal. Handing out gift cards or swag shows instant gratification. By making awards/rewards available, the company is letting workers know that their accomplishments are appreciated and that they employee is valued.

3. Holding Accountability:  Create a process that holds everyone accountable for being visibly involved, especially superintendents and other supervisors. They are the leaders for a positive change. Upper management must hold these individuals accountable.

4. Engaging All Employees: Play a part in Safety and instilling safety as a core company value:  Companies are taking actions that encourage their workers to be more engaged in safety, by holding accountability for the actions of their employees. Often, these companies know how vital safety is and view it as a core value of the organization. This will only happen when the workforce is engaged and believes that safety is everyone's responsibility. Some ways to get employees engaged is by having site-specific safety committees and getting employees involved by having monthly safety meetings. In addition, conducting Tool Box Safety Talks (TBST) or safety huddles prove to be beneficial. Allow time for workers to speak out and be a part of the company's safety culture and involve them in policy development by providing ongoing support, reinforcement, and reassessment.

5. Improving Your Safety Training to Ensure it is Dynamic, Motivating, and Effective:  Safety training should occur proactively, not reactively following an incident. Safety training is not a "one size fits all' category. Employees, and management alike, should be continually learning and growing on the job, both to improve themselves and to advance the workplace with the most effective safety procedures. 

6. Measuring Safety Performance and Culture with Leading Indicators and Key Metrics (safety audits, incident reports, EMR):  An honest assessment of where your current program stands must be implemented prior to making changes to safety programs and procedures. Perception surveys, as well as quantitative measurements such as incident rates, severity rates, OSHA recordable, and employee safety training hours, are an excellent place to start. Share the findings on safety audits with employees. 
Having a more influential safety culture will increase morale, and typically have fewer incidents. Having fewer incidents comes with significant savings that can be generated from having a sustainable safety culture that boasts a low X mod. Ask yourself what excellence looks like to you when it comes to having an effective safety culture.
"If we get safety right, we will get everything right."
Gronen Restoration WORKSAFE Project: Caradco Building Voices Building
Gronen Restoration signed up a five-story restoration project in Dubuque, Iowa. Gronen had decided to go over and beyond the three minimum safety surveys and requested to have one performed every month. They have implemented several best practices to assist participants in expanding their efforts in preventing job site injuries, with the ultimate goal of having an injury-free project. The CSSI team would like to thank Gronen Restoration for their enhanced dedication to job site safety!