Construction is Considered Essential in Many Areas of California But Not Without Restrictions

April 2, 2020Client Alert

COVID-19 Impacts on Construction Across California

On March 19, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom issued a stay-at-home order for the State of California that deemed construction workers to be “essential” and therefore exempt from the order (a full list of essential workers can be found here). Since then, various municipalities have issued their own stay-at-home orders. While some jurisdictions have exempted certain types of construction as an essential service from their respective stay-at-home orders (e.g., Los Angeles County deems construction for public works, commercial, office and institution buildings, and housing projects as essential), some have prohibited most construction projects (e.g. most Bay Area counties, including San Francisco County, prohibit most construction with only limited exceptions), and others have not issued any construction-specific restrictions or guidelines (e.g., Orange County and Riverside County, which are subject to the state order). For ease of reference, the Associated General Contractors of California (“AGC”) has summarized the county specific construction prohibitions, which can be found here.

While many construction projects are still active across the State of California, including in Southern California, contractors must nevertheless adhere to all applicable health related requirements. AGC has compiled various tools for construction employers on their website, which includes COVID-19 specific jobsite postings and suggestions for how employers can help reduce workers’ risk of exposure. Additionally, the State Building & Construction Trades Council of California has issued recommendations for the various safety measures that should be used on construction sites.

City of Los Angeles Issues New Guidance for Construction Sites

On March 31, 2020, Mayor Garcetti announced that the City will require contractors to develop comprehensive COVID-19 plans to reduce employee exposure. On the same day, the L.A. Department of Building and Safety (“LADBS”) issued COVID-19 Safety Guidance for Construction Sites (the “Guidelines”). The Guidelines provide further detail on what is expected of construction industry employers with respect to the required “COVID-19 exposure control plan,” including:

  • The plan must include (i) social distancing requirements, (ii) employee symptom checking, (iii) hygiene recommendations and requirements, (iv) decontamination procedures, and (v) proper training.
  • LADBS will monitor compliance with the exposure control plan requirement by including a review of such plan during any regularly scheduled inspection but may also perform additional investigations upon receipt of any complaints that are submitted to LADBS.
  • Failure to comply may result in withheld inspections or the forced shutdown of the construction site.

In addition, the Guidelines provide recommendations for keeping employees safe and healthy at construction sites, including that employers (i) provide personal protective equipment to employees, (ii) designate a site-specific COVID-19 supervisor to enforce the Guidelines and the employer plan, and (iii) place wash stations or hand sanitizer around the construction site to encourage regular hand washing. Please see the Guidelines for further details.

Given that the above information is not exhaustive and continues to change, please reach out to the attorneys at Greenberg Glusker if you have any questions or require assistance with respect to COVID-19’s impact on construction projects.