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Bay Area Construction Work can Resume with New Safety Protocols

Construction projects in the Bay Area counties that follow COVID-19 safety protocols can resume work on May 4. This is an easing of the initial limitations the counties placed on construction work through May 3, which were far stricter than the statewide Stay-at-Home Order.

(Last Updated May 1, 2020).


On April 29, the Bay Area counties, including San Francisco, released a revised list of essential businesses, which included:


Construction, but only as permitted under the State Shelter Order and only pursuant to the Construction Safety Protocols listed in Appendix B and incorporated into this Order by this reference. City public works projects shall also be subject to Appendix B, except if other protocols are specified by the Health Officer…

The City and County of San Francisco Order of the Health Officer No. C19-07c.

As of May 4, construction work is deemed an essential business in the Bay Area counties, if it qualifies as essential construction work under the Governor’s Stay-in-Place Order. This statewide designation broadly covers “Construction Workers who support the construction, operation, inspection, and maintenance of construction sites and construction projects (including housing construction).” This exemption for construction work also applies to workers such as plumbers, electricians, exterminators, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of construction sites and construction projects. Construction work in the Bay Area counties must also comply with the following Construction Safety Protocols given by each county’s public health department. The City and County of San Francisco has issued Small Construction Project Safety Protocols and Large Construction Project Safety Protocols, which are consistent with the protocols required in other Bay Area counties. Small Construction Project Safety Protocols: These protocols apply to any single-family, multi-family, senior, student, or other residential construction, renovation, or remodel project consisting of 10 units or less and commercial projects consisting of 20,000 square feet of floor area or less. These protocols also apply to mixed-use projects that fall into either category and any project that is not subject to the Large Construction Project Safety Protocols. Small construction projects must implement safety protocols including:

  • Compliance with all applicable and current laws and regulations including OSHA and Cal-OSHA;

  • Designation of a site-specific COVID-19 supervisor to enforce this guidance. The supervisor must be onsite during construction activities;

  • Establishment of a daily screening protocol to ensure that potentially infected staff do not enter the construction site;

  • Maintaining a minimum six-foot distance between workers at all times, except as strictly needed for a task;

  • If construction work occurs in an occupied residential unit or common areas of an occupied building, work areas must be sealed off from other common areas with physical barriers to the extent feasible. Additionally, every effort must be taken to minimize contact between the worker and building residents and users;

  • In the event of a confirmed COVID-19 case, immediate removal of the infected individual, performance of decontamination procedures, and notification of the County Public Health Department;

  • Providing personal protective equipment (PPE) to workers;

  • Prohibiting gatherings of any size on the construction site; and

  • Maintaining a daily attendance log of all workers and visitors.

We recommend reviewing all protocols listed in Appendix B-1 to find out what procedures are required for your construction.


Large Construction Project Safety Protocols


These protocols apply to commercial construction projects with greater than 20,000 square feet of floor area, as well as any single-family, multi-family, senior, student, or other residential construction of more than 10 units. These protocols also apply to any construction on Essential Infrastructure that requires five or more workers at the construction site at any one time. Large construction projects must implement safety protocols including:

  • Compliance with all applicable and current laws and regulations including OSHA and Cal-OSHA;

  • Preparation of a Site-Specific Health and Safety Plan to address COVID19-related issues, which must be posted on site at all entrances and exits. The plan must be ready to be produced to county governmental authorities upon request;

  • Providing PPE to workers and making sure workers are trained in the use of PPE;

  • Prohibiting the sharing of PPE;

  • Implementing social distancing requirements, including staggering stop-and-start times, maintaining a minimum six-foot distance between workers at all possible times, prohibiting gatherings of workers, minimizing interactions with all site visitors, and maintaining a daily attendance log of all workers and visitors;

  • Posting a notice in an area visible to all workers and visitors instructing them on health and safety tips for preventing COVID-19;

  • Implementing cleaning and sanitization practices for the construction site;

  • Implementing a COVID-19 community spread reduction plan, which includes prohibiting carpooling, sharing of food or beverages, and the use of shared equipment such as microwaves;

  • Assigning a COVID-19 Safety Compliance Officer to the construction site with responsibilities including ensuring compliance with these safety protocols, preparing a daily verification of compliance, establishing daily screening protocols, and preparing remediation plans in the event of noncompliance. The officer’s name must be posted on the Site-Specific Health and Safety Plan;

  • Assigning a COVID-19 Third-Party Jobsite Safety Accountability Supervisor to the construction site that, at a minimum, holds an OSHA-30 certificate and has had first-aid training within the past two years. They must be trained in the protocols and ensure compliance and will prepare weekly reports regarding compliance;

  • In the event of a confirmed COVID-19 case, immediate removal of the infected individual, performance of decontamination procedures, and notification to the county’s public health department; and

  • If construction work occurs in an occupied residential unit or common areas of an occupied building, work areas must be sealed off from other common areas with physical barriers to the extent feasible. Additionally, every effort must be taken to minimize contact between the worker and building residents and users.

We recommend reviewing all protocols listed in Appendix B-2 to find out what procedures are required for your construction site.


This article is intended to provide you with general information regarding the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on construction work in California. This article is not intended to provide specific legal advice. If you have any questions about the contents of this article or if you need legal advice on an issue, please contact Heffernan Law Group at contact@heffernanlawgroup.com.

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