Government Amends ‘Essential’ Workers List


The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency recently released a memorandum identifying essential critical infrastructure workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The amendment adds to the list published on March 16, adding in many construction sector jobs as “essential.”

The CISA notes, though, that “This list is intended to help state, local, tribal and territorial officials as they work to protect their communities, while ensuring continuity of functions critical to public health and safety, as well as economic and national security. Decisions informed by this list should also take into consideration additional public health considerations based on the specific COVID-19-related concerns of particular jurisdictions.

“This list is advisory in nature. It is not, nor should it be considered, a federal directive or standard. Additionally, this advisory list is not intended to be the exclusive list of critical infrastructure sectors, workers and functions that should continue during the COVID-19 response across all jurisdictions. Individual jurisdictions should add or subtract essential workforce categories based on their own requirements and discretion.”

The list, though, identifies workers who conduct a range of operations and services that are typically essential to continued critical infrastructure viability including:

  • staffing operations centers;
  • maintaining and repairing critical infrastructure;
  • operating call centers;
  • working construction; and
  • performing operational functions, among others.

The list also includes workers who support crucial supply chains and enable functions for critical infrastructure, including but not limited to:

  • medical and healthcare;
  • telecommunications;
  • information technology systems;
  • defense;
  • food and agriculture;
  • transportation and logistics;
  • energy;
  • water and wastewater;
  • law enforcement; and
  • public works.

Shortly after the memorandum, Associated General Contractors of America Chief Executive Officer Stephen E. Sandherr issued a statement in reaction to the new guidance.

“Federal officials have, wisely, heeded our advice and opted to release new guidance that makes it clear that construction activities are included in its list of essential critical infrastructure workers,” Sandherr 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.

“Specifically, federal officials have opted to identify construction and related activities, including the manufacture and delivery of construction supplies and safety equipment and the permitting and inspection of projects, in 25 different parts of its guidelines, compared to four times in its prior iteration. That is because federal officials understand the essential role construction plays in supporting our critical infrastructure and economic activities. They also understand that construction activity can continue to occur in a way that protects workers and the general public from the spread of coronavirus.”

Moving forward, Sandherr said. the AGC is willing to work with state and local officials so that those in the industry can continue, begin or get back to work in their jurisdictions.

Further from the AGC

The AGC also recently released a survey researching the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on the construction industry.

A main takeaway is that 39% of the contractors surveyed report that project owners have halted or canceled current construction projects.

Prior to that, Sandherr issued a statement a few weeks ago saying that shutting down construction projects is an unnecessary step.

View all of PaintSquare Daily News' coverage on COVID-19, here.


Tagged categories: Associated General Contractors (AGC); COVID-19; Government; Health & Safety; Health and safety; NA; North America; Safety

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