At the end of March 2020, our company president called a team meeting via Zoom to begin to researching and developing COVID safety protocols. We formed a “COVID Care Team” with a goal of becoming “COVID Clean” on site and in the office. Each member of the team was assigned different research areas, such as tracking quickly changing state requirements, developing lists of safety precautions we would need to take to resume working in clients’ homes again, and brainstorming ideas on where to allocate cleaning and isolating-barrier supplies needed to re-open. For the team, these initial proactive meetings provided a much needed psychological boost to help endure the gloomy early days of the pandemic.
A human resources firm we had fortuitously hired a couple of months before the pandemic provided us a wealth of literature on COVID-19 regarding prevention, safety, and legal aspects of opening up our business (a serious concern at the time was that businesses could be fined up to $10,000 per safety protocol violation).
Within weeks, we had assembled our “DBS COVID Care Manual,” a 42-page document comprising New York State health and safety guidelines and office and field procedures, which we fine-tuned to our remodeling business (see “Field Procedures for Interior Renovating” excerpt on facing page). The manual served as a training resource for our workers and trade partners, and though it wasn’t required in the field by law, we could easily access the document on our phones via our Buildertrend app if we needed to refer to it. We also handed out flyers with condensed information from the manual to the homeowners (see below).
Looking to the future, jobsite procedures learned from this crisis, such as hand-washing stations and portable toilets, both with hand sanitizer, will be adopted post-pandemic. Using the homeowner’s facilities will no longer be an option—M.W.
The following is an excerpt of the author’s company “DBS COVID Care Manual.”
Field Procedures for Interior Renovating:
1. Create a barrier of the immediate work area using plastic, Zip poles, tape, etc. It will be the judgment of the individual working in this area to determine whether the use of an air scrubber will be safe and efficient.
2. No one will enter this barriered area without a face covering. If more than one person is in this area, it will be the responsibility of the individuals working to wear face coverings. Additionally, communicate with the homeowner whether a face covering is necessary when in the barriered workspace.
3. It will be the responsibility of that individual in that work area to determine if the use of gloves is necessary based on safety issues.
4. When exiting the work area, either to gather materials or tools, or for bathroom use, a face covering shall be worn until the individual has safely exited the home. The same applies for entry or re-entry to the work zone.
5. At the beginning and end of each day, any doorknobs, railings, hard surfaces, etc. that are touched to gain entry to the work area will be disinfected by the individual working in that space.
6. At the end of each day, the immediate work area shall be disinfected including hard surfaces, tools/equipment left in the area, and the air within the workspace.
7. Once this area is disinfected, a “No entry COVID Clean Zone” sign will be posted outside the space. If a homeowner is allowed to enter this area (after work hours), it will be the responsibility of the homeowner to follow the same protocol that has been put in place by DBS Remodel. The sign can be posted during the course of the workday to remind the homeowner of the DBS protocol listed above.
All trade affiliates will have the responsibility to:
1. Come to DBS jobsites in good health and deem themselves safe to work.
2. Abide by the DBS protocol on the jobsite for any interior/exterior operations, and for the privilege to use and clean the DBS suppliedportable toilet.
3. Respect any DBS employee as we would respect you. If you are asked to leave a jobsite due to suspicion of your current health condition, you do so in a respectful, businesslike manner.
4. Respectfully abide by a heeded warning if it is deemed that you have violated the DBS protocol. If any violation were to continue, you may be asked to leave the jobsite.
5. Wear a face covering for any interior meetings that take place between yourself and the homeowner or any DBS employee. It will be your responsibility to provide your own face covering.
Flyers with condensed information from the manual were handed out to the homeowners.
Photos by Mike Whalen; graphics by DBS Remodel