construction association leader warns against hastily halting projects in the wake of covid-19
Contractors and developers contemplating the shut-down of current projects will do more harm than good for construction workers, as well as the economy, argues a major industry association figure.
In a statement, Stephen Sandherr, chief executive officer of the Washington-based Associated General Contractors, argued that the nation’s construction firms are “already acting to ensure the safety and health of their employees in the face of the coronavirus outbreak.”
Such measures, continued Sandherr, “which include increased hygiene and halting group gatherings of staff, are in addition to the fact that construction workers already wear protective equipment, including gloves, that will help protect them and their co-workers.”
Sandherr’s remarks come as a new study published by the Brookings Institute lists the five major industries with the highest risk from COVID-19, none of which were related to construction.
Even so, some analysts say that while the virus may not cause the abrupt cancellation of building projects, it will in many cases lead to delays.
Those same analysts note that the situation is only made the more challenging by the continuing presence of a tight labor market.
These factors, says Michael Keester, a partner with the law firm of Hall Estill, which has offices in Denver, “may very well impact the contractors’ ability to engage an adequate labor force to keep the projects on schedule and to meet their substantial completion obligation.”
Speaking with the website GlobeSt.com, Keester, who specializes in construction law, additionally forecasts the advent of new contract terms that will require the testing of employees for the virus, as well as the quarantining of “workers involved in construction projects in operating facilities, especially hospitals and other medical facilities.”
Sandheer’s call for the construction industry to keep working was echoed by Carlo Scissura, president of the New York Building Congress, who remarked: “People need homes, and we are still going to need school seats in a few months.”
In remarks published in the New York Post, Scissura added: “We clearly need extensions and buildings of medical centers and hospitals. We still need track work and maintenance to continue on the subway system.”
By Garry Boulard
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