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Construction projects shut down to focus on safety amid coronavirus outbreak
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Construction projects shut down to focus on safety amid coronavirus outbreak

COVID-19 Workplace Safety

Framer Danny Lind listens to a safety presentation Thursday morning at a Sampson Construction worksite in Fallbrook while he and other workers practice their social distancing. Sampson temporarily shut down its worksites in several states as part of a national safety stand down.

Construction projects in Lincoln have mostly continued forward despite the coronavirus pandemic, but on Thursday, many of them shut down temporarily.

The work stoppage was part of a nationwide safety campaign organized by the Associated General Contractors of America.

During the stand downs, crews stopped work so they could break into small socially distanced groups and reinforce the new safety procedures and practices that all construction workers must follow to protect themselves and the public from the spread of the coronavirus, the Associated General Contractors of America said.

Discussions, which were supposed to be conducted in English and Spanish, covered topics such as socially distancing while working and on break, the need for frequent handwashing, restrictions on tool sharing and the need to frequently disinfect high-touch areas.

“There is no margin for error when it comes to protecting workers and the public from the spread of the coronavirus,” Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer, said said in a news release. “Construction contractors understand that the only way to work amid the current pandemic is to work safely, and that is precisely what these stand downs are helping guarantee.”

Casey Lenners, safety director for Lincoln's Sampson Construction, said the company shut down all of its sites across seven states Thursday morning to discuss safety.

"The workers were very receptive," Lenners said, noting that many employees have been wearing masks or other face coverings to work.

Lenners said that while construction is deemed a "low-risk" industry for spreading coronavirus, Sampson still has very strict safety protocols that workers have to follow across its sites.

For example, he said, the same restrictions that apply in Colorado, where the outbreak is more widespread, apply in Nebraska, where it's not as pronounced.

That includes not only following social distancing guidelines, but also doing things like sanitizing high-touch surfaces several times a day.

"We've taken the most stringent rules and tried to stay consistent across the country," Lenners said.

Reach the writer at 402-473-2647 or molberding@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LincolnBizBuzz.

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Business reporter

Matt Olberding is a Lincoln native and University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate who has been covering business for the Journal Star since 2005.

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