I want to first thank all the great guests we have had on Walls & Ceilings’ videos with our Publisher Jill Bloom. The insight, passion and experience is simply amazing. As our guests have said, it is nice to know we are not alone in this crisis and we all work to help each other. Thanks to COVID-19, we have no idea where we will be this fall. Hopefully, the economy will come roaring back. 

However, we must be cautious and remember the 1918 epidemic. It came in three waves over a ten month stretch, with the second wave as the deadliest. Safety and health must be the top priority—even over the economy. Because without public confidence, there will be a lingering fear and this will prevent the economy from rebounding. 


Fears and Hopes 

Some industries will suffer greatly (such as travel or hospitality). Other industries will proposer—grocery stores, pharmaceuticals and for some reason toilet paper manufacturers. Construction will be a mixed-bag and vary from city to city. 

Subcontractors doing spec homes are likely to suffer the worst. Spec builders will push to wrap-up current projects and then stall payments. All trade contractors will likely have some projects where owners will nitpick work in attempts to stall payments. Just remember, you are not alone. 

The economy will suffer and the full extent is yet to be fully determined. Supply chains for materials will be slowed and likely choked. This should be a short-term problem. The bigger fear is that other supply chain, namely money. If the confidence in the economy dwindles, the masses will hoard. The economy is built on confidence. Confidence is built on faith, trust and health, and this should make it obvious that the virus needs to come first. There is no economy without control of the virus.

The second issue is the economy and we have bad and good news. The bad news is it will probably suffer longer than we had hoped. This “self-induced” economic coma term used by many experts seems a pretty accurate analogy. The economy is like the virus itself. It can move, grow or die. 

But the good news is the economy will survive and has the potential to return stronger than before. This could take some time but we will recover. It is depressing that the most vulnerable in our society will likely suffer the most in this crisis. I think Republicans and Democrats can agree that these people who live only month to month need help now. Many are health care workers and first responders. They need our help. 


Returning to Normal

This event, similar to 9/11, will change our world and the way we live. The speed and ease of global travel is one reason this pandemic traveled around the world in record time. Scientific advances have helped us understand why and how better than experts in 1918. Will the future mean more wash stations on jobs and mandatory masks? Will we be given antiseptic towelettes as we enter a plane? Will OSHA ramp up enforcement on safety issues regarding airborne illnesses? Will there be greater focus on the use of respirators? This could result in more penalties for those employers who fail to implement engineering or administration controls. 

If you have never heard of these terms, you may be in trouble. These two terms should be part of your overall strategic plan and in your supervisor’s vocabulary. When an OSHA compliance officer shows up on your site, it quickly becomes showtime. The fact is your workers will likely be 100 percent in compliance to all OSHA rules (but virtually impossible). This means how your crew and supervisor handle the crisis situation of an on-site inspection will have an impact on what happens next. The officer will likely ask for written policies, plans and answers to questions. The response will likely determine how the violation is written up. 

The ranking of serious, failure to abate or willful negligence is bad. These rankings are generally given to employers who disregard safety, such as having a written silica dust exposure plan, or supervisors and crew members who shrug their shoulders when asked about company engineering controls. This can lead to bad rankings with big fines. 

Conversely, a knowledgeable supervisor with informed crews that are practicing good but not perfect safety, can be labeled as “other than serious.” This means you made a mistake and can be forgiven. If there is a hearing on your case, which ranking would you think is more likely to be dismissed? Current times and the future are uncertain but good leaders plan for a crisis to occur.