A new analysis that quantifies how construction activity during the coronavirus pandemic elevates health hazards for workers as well as members of the general public in Austin, Texas, reinforces the importance of jobsite safety methods.

The study, commissioned by Austin Mayor Steve Adler, found that keeping the city’s jobsites open without any special safety precautions could triple the number of coronavirus-related hospitalizations in the general population — from 10,000 to 30,000 — and raise construction workers’ risk of hospitalization eightfold by the middle of August.

The model from a team of researchers at the University of Texas at Austin is based on a scenario that assumes the surrounding community is under a highly strict shelter-in-place order (with around 90% of residents staying home) while construction work continues with no special safety precautions. It also assumes that construction jobsites have double the transmission risk of a typical workplace due to the “nature of construction work and/or the elevated concentration of construction workers at essential worksites​.”

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