By David Ward
NOTE: After at least 34 lawsuits were filed nationwide seeking to permanently stay or rule unconstitutional the Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) announced by OSHA, which would have required that employers with 100 or more employees ensure their workers are fully vaccinated or test at least weekly for COVID-19, OSHA announced November 18, 2021, that it would stay enforcement of the ETS pending court review. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals was drawn in a lottery to hear and resolve all matters related to these now-consolidated challenges to the ETS. Until it’s known how this matter will be resolved, plan to be prepared.
Everybody in the construction industry is talking about OSHA’s emergency temporary standard that requires employers with 100 or more employees to institute a COVID-19 vaccination requirement or offer an alternative option of weekly testing. The magic number of 100 employees includes full-time and part-time workers, but not contractors. However, as many GCs know, certain clients have long required everybody on the jobsite be vaccinated.
With a deadline of January 4, 2022 looming, safety officers, project managers, and HR professionals are huddling to figure out the best way to manage the process. For OSHA reporting, they’ll quickly need to know who has been vaccinated, who is opting for weekly COVID-19 testing, and the best way to easily manage and safely document worker status and meet the OSHA record keeping requirements. Forward-looking, GCs are also including subcontractors’ vaccination status. For them, it’s just easier to account for everybody on the jobsite. And when it comes to rehiring subcontractors, they’re an upside to already clearing the vaccination hurdle.
As GCs try to figure out the best logistical way to manage the vaccination verification process, many are applying the lessons learned from early in the pandemic. You probably recall how the paper-based check in process and health screenings were replaced by digital check-in apps that offer social distancing, privacy of worker data, and private contact tracing.
The contractors that adopted digital technology at the time are now reporting that they’re saving hours each day previously spent having workers and subcontractors sign in, meet with a supervisor, and get their daily assignment. Digital check in technology has evolved beyond health screenings to streamline a lot of admin on the jobsite. Depending on the size of the project, the savings can be the equivalent of one or two full-time employees.
In anticipation of the January 2022 OSHA mandate, digital check-in continues to evolve. It now allows workers to answer the vaccination status question and upload a picture of their CDC card for further proof. The office can easily and privately access the records and produce reports based on data captured from the field that’s in compliance with OSHA guidelines.
Ampirical Solutions is one example of a company that uses digital check in technology to navigate and streamline what could have been a cumbersome process of determining who has been vaccinated.
As background, the company provides electrical infrastructure engineering, design and construction for investor-owned utilities, municipalities, rural cooperatives, and industrial clients throughout the U.S. Its range of services span Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Texas.
Ampirical first started using digital check in for COVID-19 health screenings and private contact tracing. As their digital app, Safe Site Check In evolved, Ampirical saw additional benefits. This includes an easier way to manage the daily log and download weekly reports to identify potential productivity or profitability issues well in advance of their impact on the project’s success.
Recently, Ampirical decided to use Safe Site Check In to manage the COVID-19 vaccination status of workers and subcontractors in anticipation of OSHA requirements. With Safe Site Check In, workers can verify their vaccination status as they sign in and upload a picture of the vaccination card. Along with being prepared for OSHA, this helps with project and employee management.
According to Ampirical’s Rod Courtney, heath, safety and environmental (HSE) manager, “It’s not about politics or foisting an employer’s beliefs on employees. Rather, it’s about the logistical process of verifying and documenting that every employee and subcontractor working onsite has been vaccinated, or that negative test results are current, without disrupting the work to be done.”
As contractors prepare for the January 2022 deadline, now is the time to take the necessary steps and institute processes that will make it easy to document who has been vaccinated and who is being tested for COVID-19 on a weekly basis.
Digital check-ins offer a streamlined way to do this without adding additional, time-consuming admin tasks to the workload of project managers, HR, and other staff. The key is to capture the information once and have it easily accessible through the cloud. Otherwise, critical time may be wasted trying to track down field and office workers, manage the weekly testing process, and have records ready for OSHA.
About the Author:
Modern Contractor Solutions, December 2021
Did you enjoy this article?
Subscribe to the FREE Digital Edition of Modern Contractor Solutions magazine.