The great people who make up America’s construction workforce make sure the nation is driving on safe roads and bridges, and entering strong community spaces. They define many physical attributes of our daily lives. Their safety has always been paramount and crucial to the success of each project. Personal protective equipment (PPE) is not a new phrase in the construction industry, but prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was known for use against injury, not infection.
As soon as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Centers for Disease Control in Prevention (CDC) issued additional guidance for the construction industry, commercial builders began rolling out infectious disease precautions on job sites in order to comply with regulations and protect their essential workers. While necessary to avoid risks, these precautions can come with a steep price tag.
In fact, RSMeans data from Gordian shows that infectious disease precautions can reduce the amount of available work time by up to 10%, thereby increasing labor costs on job sites, especially those with restrictive COVID requirements — such as healthcare facilities and school buildings. Publicly funded construction projects and tasks that are associated with high exposure risk levels will require the most precautions. Owners, contractors and estimators must properly account for these new costs or their projects will be in jeopardy of cost overruns and/or profit losses.
Complete Construction Cost Estimates with COVID Precautions
While the material, equipment and labor cost fluctuations will be reflected in construction cost databases, added guidance from OSHA or the CDC, in addition to general conditions, is not reflected in the data. There are many cost factors in a construction project that aren’t necessarily part of the finished product but are essential to the success and completion of the work. It’s the estimator’s responsibility to use the data appropriately and account for these allowances.
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