Connecticut Issues Safe Workplace Rules for Essential Businesses and Construction Sites in Response to COVID-19
On April 7, 2020, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont issued Executive Order 7V, requiring that “[e]very workplace in the State of Connecticut shall take additional protective measures to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 between and among employees, customers, and other persons such as delivery drivers, maintenance people or others who may enter the workplace” and instructed the Commissioner of Economic and Community Development, in consultation with the Commissioner of Public Health, to issue legally binding mandatory statewide rules prescribing those additional protective measures.
In accordance with the executive order, the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) issued the new workplace safety rules on the evening of April 7. They can be viewed on the DECD’s website here.
The new safety rules impose a binding obligation on all essential businesses to implement measures to ensure social distancing and limit contact among employees and customers. Those measures include eliminating in-person meetings, having employees work remotely, staggering shifts and reducing “transmission points” by, for example, opening internal doors, removing lids, and making hand sanitizer available.
Property developers, construction companies and home improvement contractors in particular should pay attention to these rules, as they include specific requirements applicable to construction sites. Those specific requirements, copied directly from the DECD’s rules, consist of the following:
- Clean portable bathrooms no less than every 2 days.
- Require employees to travel separately to and from, and within, worksites.
- Reschedule work to maximize the amount of work being performed outdoors, limit indoor or work lacking significant fresh air.
- Shift work to limit the size of the crews on the jobsite, especially indoors.
- Rotate lunch and coffee break shifts, requiring workers to follow the CDC social distancing guidelines during meals or breaks.
- Follow all safety and health protocols when using an elevator.
- Provide an adequate supply of PPE, including but not limited to masks, gloves, hand sanitizer.
The sudden emergence of the Covid-19 public health emergency has disrupted businesses in Connecticut and caused significant changes to the legal environments in which they operate.