Cheney Free Press -

By John McCallum
Managing Editor 

Inslee reopens low-risk, residential construction

 

Last updated 4/24/2020 at 1:10pm



OLYMPIA – Gov. Jay Inslee announced that low-risk construction activity could resume in the state as long as contractors follow safety plans at each site agreed to by state, labor and industry leaders.

Inslee made the announcement at a news conference this morning, April 24, joined by members of a committee assembled to devise safety recommendations that included Building Industry Association of Washington Executive Vice President Greg Lane and Washington State Building and Construction Trades Council Executive Secretary Mark Riker. The governor cited measures taken in his “Stay Home, Stay Health” orders as helping bend the curve of the coronavirus that has impacted most of the state since late-February and enabled state and industry officials to implement the beginning of a return-to-work plan.

“We have reached the first step of that plan,” Inslee said. “We have found a way to safely allow low-risk construction that is underway to resume.”

Inslee said the collaborative work by a group of state and industry officials that began meeting in early April has led to a very “comprehensive safety plan” with “high standards.” At a news conference on Tuesday evening, April 21, Inslee’s Chief of Staff David Postman said the work resulted in a 30-point plan for jobsites to follow to ensure worker safety.

The plan requires establishing controls to implement social distancing guidelines while complying with state and federal construction site and labor safety regulations and guidelines. It also requires jobsite safety plans show they can provide adequate personal protection equipment, and have a site supervisor designated to monitoring and implementing the plan conditions.

The plan also requires sanitary and cleanliness conditions be met. Specific notices of the work to be performed must be posted, and workers must leave the jobsite if coronavirus symptoms develop and remain at home until cleared.

Inslee said the plan had been agreed to by state regulators and safety experts, health officials, building and labor and local government officials.

“It’s our job to do it right,” Riker said addressing workers in the state. “If we do it right, we move to the next step. If we do it wrong, we will be shutting ourselves back down.”

Lane said the move will help the industry begin to readdress a housing shortage that is occurring in the state. He added the state is short about 200,000 affordable housing units, with the shortfall working towards pricing working families out of the home ownership market.

“We’re going to safely start addressing that housing shortfall again, and hope to make housing more affordable for everyone in Washington,” he said.

Inslee said the work can begin once he signed the orders to do so today. No specific numbers were given on projects that would resume and how many workers would be back on site.

As for signs of reopening the state for business, Inslee said he hoped data over the next few days would possibly lead to allowing hospitals to resume performing elective procedures, especially in rural areas hard hit by the loss of revenue from such procedures. He also said state officials would be looking at data and consulting with health experts over the next couple of days about ways of resuming some outdoor recreation activities.

John McCallum can be reached at jmac@cheneyfreepress.com.

 

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