- December 22, 2020
- Attorney Matt Stoddard
- Premises Liability
Back in March, when the danger and magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic first came to light in the U.S, the immediate fate of Atlanta’s construction industry came down to the placement of a single comma.
In Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ initial stay at home order, the concept of “essential” work was defined as including “public works construction, airport operations, utility, water, sewer, gas, electrical…” and a multitude of other services.
The specificity of “public works construction” seemed to indicate that private construction would be considered non-essential in Atlanta. If that definition had stuck, it would have changed a great deal about the past year, far beyond the 14-day scope of that first shutdown order.
The order was soon corrected, however, with later versions reading “public works, construction, airport operations,” and so on. With that one tiny edit, all construction was classified as essential.
Aside from some delays in permit processing and other office-level tasks, business in construction has continued more or less as usual since then. By October, Atlanta’s employment rate in the construction industry had recovered to within a couple percentage points of its booming 2019 level.
The Construction Boom Will Only Intensify in 2021, Regardless of the Progress of the Vaccine
The pandemic continues to add a layer of uncertainty to all manner of plans and predictions. A safe, swift vaccine rollout would create a very different economic landscape from another year or more of social distancing, so companies must plan for both. One way or another, though, what little slowdown the Atlanta construction industry has experienced is coming to an end.
Demand for new construction is high, particularly for housing. The Atlanta Business Chronical estimates that new home construction will rise by 9% in 2021, even as house prices rise by 6.7% and mortgage rates by 3.4%. Other projections anticipate a slower upswing in housing construction, but an immediate one in healthcare construction, for obvious reasons.
Between the need to adapt to our new circumstances, and the desire to move forward with life beyond simple survival, there’s no shortage of projects that will soon need construction workers to make them a reality.
Companies Have a Duty to Make Sure the Construction Rush Does Not Endanger Workers
As in all periods of rapid growth, there’s a high probability that worker safety will fall by the wayside as companies rush get things done and take advantage of every opportunity. Tight deadlines and corner-cutting always raise the accident rate for construction workers, and in this case, the infection rate will also contribute to the number of work-related deaths and disabilities.
A pathogen sweeping through a worksite may not be as visible and dramatic as a collapsing crane, but both are deadly, and both can be prevented with a solid safety plan that prioritizes worker wellbeing. Right now, construction companies should be working just as hard on their safety plans as they are on their plans to win each exciting new contract.
If you’ve already been injured or lost a loved one to an irresponsibly managed construction site, The Stoddard Firm can help.