Construction

Construction resumed last week on the Sweetwater development in Hailey. So far, the city hasn’t noted any violations of its coronavirus safety guidelines for worksites.

Over a week after the reopening of Hailey’s construction sector, the city is reporting full compliance with the COVID-19 regulations its city council set forth on April 20.

City Administrator Heather Dawson said that as of Tuesday, none of the city’s 91 active job sites had been issued warnings and the city had not received any complaints involving contractors or labor crews.

“[We] have found an understanding of the current situation, a willingness to comply and an eagerness from construction workers to perform their work well under the guidelines,” she said.  

Hailey’s 18 construction guidelines include requirements that workers wear personal-protective equipment such as masks and face shields, stay on-site during lunch breaks, use hand sanitizer frequently and stay six feet apart.

Jonathan Lunceford of Lunceford Excavation told the Express that it hasn’t been “too difficult” to uphold the social distancing measures.

“It’s mostly been easy for us to stay six feet apart, being outside,” he said. “It can be tough when we have to do a certain type of work, though, like putting together a pipe or conduit.”

To meet the city’s hand-hygiene criteria, Lunceford made a trip down to Holesinsky Vineyard and Winery in Buhl to pick up dozens of wine bags filled with hand sanitizer. Then, he bought spray bottles on Amazon to give every employee their own supply.

“Honestly, it hasn’t been much of a challenge keeping everyone safe,” he said. “We try to stick together and stay away from others. My employees even do a better job of wearing their masks than I do—nobody wants to get sick.”

Lunceford said the city’s inspection process, which has involved both the Hailey Police Department and Building Inspector Tom Abbott, has been “very helpful.”

“No one’s been hounding us. It’s all about working together,” he said.

Sweetwater Communities Project Manager Kameron Spencer agreed.

“Tom [Abbott] usually comes out about twice per day to check in on us and see how we’re doing,” Spencer said. “He has always been very polite but has firmly reminded us of any compliance issues he’s seen.”

Spencer said his top priority has been checking employees in and out of the job site. The process requires each worker to sign a form acknowledging that they aren’t experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms, aren’t aware of having contact with someone who has the virus and understand all personal-protective equipment requirements, he said.

While social distancing has been fairly easy to implement, Spencer said it’s had a “large impact on how we perform labor-intensive tasks, like moving large or heavy objects.” But of all the city’s construction regulations, he said the most difficult one to enforce has been the mask requirement.

“Some workers find the masks obtrusive,” he said. “[They] also can cause fogging of the face shields or safety glasses that we wear while at the job site.”

On Tuesday, Dawson said that contractors and employees have used “impressive” creativity to meet the city’s job-safety requirements.

“For example, when a large window can’t be handled with six-foot distancing, contractors are using members of the same household to perform those tasks,” she said.

Email the writer: ejones@mtexpress.com

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