Over the last few months our top priorities have been keeping ourselves and our families safe. We are all maintaining social distancing, wearing masks, limiting trips to the store and staying away from our friends and family, all in an effort to avoid exposure to COVID-19. While we are all adhering to these new rules of engagement, it is important to continue protecting ourselves when we have to open our homes to repairmen, service providers and contractors.

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and OSHA (Occupational Health and Safety Administration) have issued guidelines for business owners to maintain proper safety measures, which include specific protocol for their employees. In addition, New York City has issued its own specific guidelines for the construction industry for any work conducted in the five boroughs, all in an effort to stop the spread of the virus.

Contracting firms and service providers are required to implement proper safety measures to protect their employees in the office and in the field. They are required to routinely clean and disinfect surfaces where they are working and wear proper PPE (personal protective equipment) to keep themselves and their customers safe.  Examples of PPE include gloves, goggles, face shields, face masks and respiratory protection, when appropriate. PPE should be properly fitted and worn, properly stored or disposed of, and replaced as necessary.

If you find yourself in the need of a contractor or service provider, you should feel comfortable asking the company what measures they are taking to protect you and your home.  Anyone who enters your home should be healthy, have no fever, show no symptoms of respiratory distress and should not have been exposed to anyone with symptoms of COVID-19.  In addition, once they arrive at your home, they should be wearing proper PPE and maintain proper social distancing.

The company should provide a description of their services, along with a plan to notify you where they will be working, and how they will be disinfecting those areas once their work is complete. If the project requires multiple days of work, proper disinfecting should be provided, at the very least, at the end of every day, and more frequently in high transit areas and restrooms.

In general, anyone who enters your home should follow good hygiene and infection control practices by washing their hands frequently, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home if they are not feeling well. They should be limiting the sharing of tools, machinery and materials, and should wear gloves whenever possible.

If you are planning a major construction project, like replacing your windows, renovating a basement or kitchen, or adding onto your home, you should ask the contracting firm to maintain a log of every person, including workers, supervisors and delivery personnel that may enter your home. This will allow for more accurate contact tracing if needed in the future.

Outdoor work has less stringent guidelines than work indoors, however, in every case, you should try to keep your distance from workers in or around your home.  When speaking with contractors or service providers maintain at least six feet of distance and wear a face covering to ensure you are protected. If a contractor, salesperson, or supervisor has entered your home for a consultation, estimate or to review the scope of work, wipe down any surfaces they may have touched with disinfecting wipes.

Keeping your family healthy and safe is your highest priority.  Make sure to select a contracting firm or service provider that aligns with those same priorities and takes the proper precautions to keep your family safe, respecting your home as if it were their own.

For any questions about your remodeling project or current safety requirements, you can contact HIC of Staten Island by email at [email protected]

John Kolbaska, President      The Men with Tools

(347) 815-4151    www.themenwithtools.com