Federal Government Issues Guidance to Clarify Areas of ‘Essential’ Work
The U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security on March 28 issued new guidance that adds 21 new areas of construction that support essential infrastructure on which work can continue during the COVID-19 pandemic, up from four previously included.
The guidance includes construction-related activities such as the manufacture and delivery of construction supplies and safety equipment and the permitting and inspection of projects in specific areas.
On the agency list are construction of energy and renewable energy projects, including their environmental remediation, and construction of onshore and offshore petroleum projects, including pipeline and liquified natural gas (LNG) construction.
The list also now covers construction of water and wastewater infrastructure, hospitals, including temporary construction, housing, transportation and communications, among others.
The federal agency said the list is intended to help state and local officials make decisions about essential workers, but it is not a directive or standard.
Jurisdictions can add or subtract essential workforce categories, DHS said.
“This new federal guidance should help eliminate the confusion and ambiguity that has led several state and local officials to needlessly order halts to construction activity that is clearly essential,” said Stephen Sandherr, CEO of the Associated General Contractors, in a statement.
Federal officials understand that construction can continue in a way that protects workers and the general public from virus spread, he said.