BY: G. DAVID SLOAD, ABC KEYSTONE PRESIDENT-CEO
Seven and a half months ago, the COVID-19 pandemic began, and those dreaded words came down from Governor Tom Wolf: “All nonessential
businesses must close.” As we came to find out, construction was determined to be nonessential. Through many emails and phone calls, we were able to get some projects open if they were life-sustaining. I am still not sure a real definition has been issued for ‘life-sustaining.’ However, in their wisdom, the State felt they could define it through a waiver process, and we all know how that worked.
Fast forward approximately six weeks, and with the help of our COVID-19 Safety Task Force we were able to get the Governor to re-open construction. The restrictions and recommendations put in place have made it more difficult to expeditiously work on and complete projects, but our members, using their entrepreneurial spirit, have managed to overcome a lot of these impediments.
Back on March 19, I am sure we all thought this would be behind us by Labor Day. However, when the beginning of September rolled around, we were all still held somewhat captive by this virus. Knowing that it was time to start apprenticeship classes and other trainings, we, as a staff and the stewards of your chapter, had to plan properly. A COVID-19 building safety policy was created. Protocols were put in place, and the staff was instructed on procedures for handling in-person interactions.
These protocols must be a moving target, as both the CDC and the State like to make changes based on what they feel the virus is doing. We understand that some members may feel that as we are in the construction arena, our Chapter building protocols are too tough. Yet, some members might contend our protocols are not tough enough. As your Chapter staff, we try not to debate the varying opinions on how much protection from the virus is needed, nor do we debate the recommendations put out by the government agencies. Our main goal is to protect YOUR association, ABC Keystone, from liability and to protect your employees from illness due to the virus.
One day down the road, COVID-19 will pass, and the Keystone Chapter staff and members will all have learned new processes, new technologies, and maybe even new and better ways to do our jobs. The staff will look back on this time and feel grateful for the conversations, the ability to respond to your requests for help, and the input you as members provided at a critical time to help keep our industry up and running.
Yes, construction is, and always will be, an essential business. Together, we will all have grown personally, professionally, and collectively. ABC is YOUR association, and we will prevail together.
Please continue to reach out to us. We’re here to help!