Concerns for Contractors Grow Amid COVID-19 Outbreak

As construction sites in Miami Beach begin to experience mandatory closures for failing to follow social distancing guidelines, contractors in South Florida are starting to feel the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. Despite the ongoing pandemic, construction has remained relatively unaffected, as it is considered an essential business allowing for projects throughout the state to push forward. However, with rules becoming more stringent as the virus continues to spread, fear of infection amongst construction workers is starting to become a focus, and challenges for construction workers to carry on with projects are growing.

Both the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County recently issued an emergency order requiring that all construction workers wear masks while on work sites. Prior to that, the CDC released guidelines implementing social distance measures such as staggering work schedules, decreasing social contact in the workplace, and increasing physical distance between workers on worksites for businesses across the nation. Additionally, some contractors and governmental authorities are requiring that temperatures be taken before allowing anyone on the job site. Considering that numerous tasks require workers to work near each other, not to mention the number of people that are typically needed on a worksite at once, contractors may face difficultly ensuring compliance and enforcing these safety guidelines amongst the various laborers and trades on a project.

Beyond trying to control the spread of COVID-19, contractors are also concerned with disruptions to the supply chain. Many contractors are struggling with having to find new suppliers since materials coming from China are either delayed or running out, or individual companies have been forced to shut their doors after being deemed to be 'non-essential.' This added complication has forced contractors to get creative, finding companies that produce materials in the States rather than rely on companies in China to provide materials.

Developers that have had to shut down entire projects after workers have tested positive for coronavirus are fearful that the forced shutdowns are actually doing more harm than good. Contractors from those job sites are switching over to work on other projects, considerably increasing the chances of spreading the virus after possibly having come in close contact with infected workers. How positive cases should be handled on construction sites is still up in the air, and contractors will have to undergo a trial and error stage as they grapple with these challenges.

The next coming weeks will be very telling for Florida's construction industry. With government officials announcing plans to reopen the state on May 1st, we will have to wait and see what 'back to normal' will look like for construction sites in Florida.