The Baltimore-DC Building Trades Council represents all the construction local unions in DC, Baltimore, and Northern Virginia, with over 24,000 members in 22 locals. “All the different trades on a construction site,” President/Executive Director Stephen Courtien told Union City, “‘from the hole to the top to the roof.” As of late last week, most of those folks were still on the job, Courtien said, but job safety was more of an issue than ever. “Construction is inherently dangerous,” Courtien said. “On a project, anything could happen any time.” With the COVID-19 pandemic, “we're getting a lot of members who are concerned about ‘Am I going to have a job tomorrow,’ and then secondary is ‘Okay, well how can I make sure that I'm working safe on the project?'”
The Building Trades Council and its locals “are trying to really just make sure that the members understand how to work safely on the project, like we always do, just with a new threat. Where before it was about falling or an overhead accident, things like that, now we're just really trying to enforce with them about protecting themselves with social distancing and keeping your hands washed, wearing gloves. All those things are just starting to get put into their safety toolbox.”
The Council has worked with contractors to institute more social distancing on projects, and “there has been a big push on projects where we normally wouldn't have running water, they're putting handwashing stations on site,” said Courtien. “They're also telling the workers ‘Don't share tools.’ Even though that was never really a big problem, they're just really trying to enforce this so that people don't get sick.”
- Chris Garlock
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