Member Coronavirus FAQs
Brothers and Sisters of the Regional Council, hopefully this “Q&A” can answer some of your concerns and most frequently asked questions. It is the intent of the Regional Council to ensure your economic sustainability in this challenging time we are currently facing. We encourage our membership to work when it is safe to do so. We have numerous publications on our website for jobsite protocols, CDC guidelines and recommendations from the White House Coronavirus Task Force. It is vitally important for our partnering contractors to continue their committed projects with the best skilled-craft available – You! If our contractors continue to be successful, they will continue to procure work employing our members building their pensions and Health & Welfare Funds as well as your own personal finances. As always any member should feel free to contact their business representatives to answer any questions you may specifically have not listed below or you can also email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are contractors doing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on their sites?
First and foremost, all members have the right to a safe workplace. Contractors must take all necessary steps to ensure your health and safety. We are starting to see some employers come out with extensive pandemic plans. Some are talking with employees every day on maintaining worker safety during these difficult times. Additionally, contractors are doing screenings, practicing social distancing, adding hand washing stations and changing morning briefings to keep workers safe. If employers are screening members, they should not be recording the screening questions and answers due to HIPA restrictions.
NO MEMBER SHOULD WORK IN UNSAFE CONDITIONS and should immediately report health and safety concerns to their onsite supervision. If any unsafe condition is not corrected, we have set-up a COVID-19 hotline you can call with concerns and questions. The hotline number 651-379-0277.
Who is and who is not essential in construction?
All construction is considered essential in Wisconsin and Minnesota. There are no executive orders in other states of the Regional Council at this time. The Council Leadership and Political team are actively working to make sure construction is considered essential for all our six states. Public health orders will determine whether construction work can continue. Staff are working every day to ensure that members doing essential work are doing so under mandatory safety and public health standards.
What jobs around the Regional Council are being cancelled?
While there have been some cancellations and a small increase on MIX 2020’s out-of- work list, some of it may be due to personal choice. Contractors have been able to move onto other jobs. We are not seeing a decrease in work at this time.
Do you have recommended break and lunchroom rules regarding spacing?
The Centers for Disease Control has provided extensive information on how to protect yourself. Here are some ways that you can protect yourself from their website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention.html.
Additionally, the Regional Council’s Infection Control Risk Assessment Outreach Specialist, DeAnn Richards, has created a COVID-19 Checklist for a Construction Site (available in Spanish) to ensure contractors are preventing the spread of the virus on worksites.
Are there ramifications for contractors who ask an employee to stay home because they chose to travel in the past two weeks?
It is within the rights of the individual contractor to ask the employee to stay home for the safety of the remaining employees. This may include 14 days of self-monitoring for signs and symptoms.
Will health insurance coverage still be available to members if they are not working due to COVID-19?
Aside from the dollar bank, they may need to purchase further health insurance through COBRA. We have increased short-term disability from $350 to $450 and it now does not have a waiting week. Health coverage should be extended if on medical leave. They may also be covered by the IRS guidelines.
Is the union going to assist workers who are off work, out of insurance and could have difficulty paying their premium due to the lack of work, especially if this goes on for a long period of time?
We have increased short-term disability from $350 to $450 and it now does not have a waiting week. The UBC and NCSRCC are working to ensure that federal dollars support our members’ health eligibility.
What measures are being out in place to help protect workers in the event the virus is present in areas near large job sites?
We have communicated to all contractors, held multiple teleforums and provided guidelines.
What should union members do if they suspect they may be sick when working away from home?
They should isolate themselves, self-monitor for signs and symptoms of the coronavirus, and notify a health official to see if they can get tested.
Is it legal for contractors to ask members questions before they start work in the morning?
During a pandemic, it is reasonable for employers to ask employees screening questions but employers are required to keep your health information private due to HIPA restrictions.
How will construction continue big jobs when we need to be keeping a social distance?
Construction has been listed as essential in both Wisconsin and Minnesota in building, maintaining and repairing critical infrastructure. Construction should continue on all jobs when it is safe to do so. The jobsite may look different than normal as NCSRCC Protocols and CDC Guidelines are being followed. When possible, contractors should network with their peers to see what steps they have taken to limit their employees to exposure.
There are methods in which safety and social distancing can be maintained on a worksite, including:
- Stagger toolbox talks or use on demand videos – information remains important
- Limit the number of people in a specific area on a job site
- Do not stack trades
- Staggered work shifts and work hours
- Stagger use of any shared space with frequent disinfection
- Stagger entry and exit times
- Limit number of people in a job elevator
- Avoid common shared items including: water cooler, tools, food, computer or keyboards, vending machines.
View NCSRCC’s latest video covering commonly asked questions about worksite safety here: https://youtu.be/q13ph44vK1k
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