What Does Mobile Equipment Have to Do With Social Distancing?

From a phrase that no one heard of a few months ago, to one that is on our minds daily, “social distancing,” has become a way of life.  As we manage our daily lives, we’ve become acutely aware of the fact that we have to stay at least six feet apart from others for everyone’s safety.   This requires us to be aware of our surroundings in ways that we are not accustomed to.  

As construction job sites open up, social distancing has never been more important. Interestingly though, in many ways the construction industry has been practicing some form of environmental awareness, as heavy mobile equipment has always posed a safety concern, accounting for approximately 17% of construction fatalities, the second leading cause of death.  

The long-standing mindset about the need and ability to manage physical space around the job site was already something the industry was doing in relation to mobile equipment and heavy machinery.  Many of the same requirements for avoiding potential “struck-by” hazards with mobile equipment apply to the new coronavirus work environment in which we are living.   

The safety of your work force and subcontractors depends on precautions taken by your organization.  There are additional coronavirus social distancing measures that can, and should be taken, to avoid potential bottlenecks and choke points on a specific job site.   

Protocols such as:  

  • Monitoring entry zones 
  • Staggering working hours 
  • Virtual meetings or socially distanced meeting outside 
  • Limited occupancy in break/lunch areas 
  • Limiting job functions where social distancing is very difficult if not impossible 

Many of these precautions, and there are many others, are being recommended in state and local guidelines.  However, even with guidelines and mandates, it’s often difficult to change behavior.  You can, however, reinforce existing behavior as many workers on your site already think about social distancing in a slightly different context.   

Let’s work together and remind workers that all of the same protocols that apply to working around heavy equipment, apply to the new ways in which we are thinking about social distancing.  Plus, the goal remains the same . . . to maintain a safe environment for all workers!