No doubt about it; these are strange times. We thought (hoped) the great mask debate would be history by now. We also hoped the pandemic of 2020 wouldn’t repeat itself as soon as it did. But now we have the Delta variant. Construction firms cannot avoid dealing with the realities of the situation any longer.
Can Construction Firms Mandate COVID-19 Vaccinations?
No matter how you feel about it, mask-wearing and vaccinations are tricky topics. You may say that most of your workers are outdoors, so mask-wearing is unnecessary. But you have an office staff that works primarily indoors.
You cannot mandate office workers wear masks but let field personnel have a choice. You can, of course, but you’d risk discrimination charges.
What if your client insists? In addition to requesting eco-friendly materials, clients are demanding construction firms require employee vaccinations. If you’re working a government contract, that makes a difference.
The location of your project site matters, too. Many mask mandates expired in March 2021. As another fall pandemic looms, there are states, counties, and cities returning to mandatory masks. Arkansas says you cannot enforce mask-wearing. But some Arkansas cities disagree and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) puts most of that state at high risk.
California says fully vaccinated people don’t have to wear masks. But fully vaccinated or not, if your project is a retrofit for an open school or operative healthcare facility you probably – perhaps legally and even ethically – need to wear masks.
(California) employers must provide unvaccinated employees with NIOSH-certified respirator masks for voluntary use when working indoors…Employers must also make masks available to
vaccinated persons upon request. –Littler Insight
Legal Sources Advise Transparency, Consistency
Regardless of which approach you take, make sure every employee knows what your company is doing. “Updated policies should be clear and unambiguous and in writing,” says construction news source Construction Dive.
Before you issue mandates, consider the unique factors of your workplaces. Choose your policies wisely and make sure everyone knows exceptions exist. Documenting policy violations remains critical. Consult with local union advisors. And before you risk firing non-compliant employees, make sure your company can manage the turnover.
Construction Monitor Data Analytics
We pull building permit information pertinent to your company and your location. We then refine it so you won’t waste time sifting through pages of information you can’t use. And we do this every week.