MITA Gets Clarification On Question Of All Construction Field Operations Being “Essential”

On Friday, MITA made an official request to Governor Whitmer to deem ALL construction field operations as non-essential in order to protect the health and safety of industry employees and to allow for all Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to be focused on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic (at hospitals and medical facilities), where it is needed most. The hope was that by taking this position, tens of thousands of folks in the construction industry would join in the effort to adhere to the Governor’s Stay Home, Stay Safe Executive Order, and therefore allow the medical community to put the proper system in place to effectively deal with this outbreak.

MITA staff met via conference call today with senior administration officials and MDOT to discuss the MITA board resolution in order to obtain better clarity from Governor Whitmer on what projects are considered critical infrastructure construction. The Administration clarified the terms and conditions of Executive Order (EO) 2020-21, with the understanding that essential construction activities will proceed where possible and where construction workers can be appropriately protected by the practices of social distancing and the universal precautions recommended by the CDC as they relate to COVID-19.

Consistent with other states, MDOT leadership affirmed that their construction projects will proceed, unless contractors on specific projects determine that there are COVID-19 concerns that precipitate a project shut down (see below). Local agency and other critical infrastructure projects can proceed, if the involved public owner deems the project to be essential. MITA suggests that all contractors reach out to their respective owner agencies to request official written guidance regarding the clear definition of a project being “essential”.

Not all construction projects, however, will be deemed “essential”, and therefore several owners (public agencies and private owners) may make the decision to shut their own projects down and abide by the ultimate goal of the EO, which is to have as many people stay at home as possible. Ultimately most commercial and residential construction projects have been shut down at this point.

During this morning’s conference call, MDOT leadership and MITA did agree to work together to develop and issue specific guidance on how contractors may react and proceed when there are project specific COVID-19 impacts and concerns. It is hoped that all other agencies will follow this example.

The cornerstone of the agreement is that a contractor, who has workforce concerns and/or other project impacts directly related to COVID-19 (labor force shortages, supply chain challenges and/or PPE concerns), can make those concerns and impacts known to the Department and request the project be shut down (delay). The Department will agree to shut down (delay) the project, with the acknowledgement that an extension of time for the delay will be granted. Further details of this agreement will be forthcoming.

MITA has put out several bulletins over the past two weeks explaining proper protocols for keeping a job site clean and virus-free. Please refer to the industry best practices document linked here as you move forward on your projects.

Questions or concerns may be directed to any of the following MITA staff members:

Mike Nystrom, Executive Vice President

Rob Coppersmith, Vice President of Member Services

Glenn Bukoski, Vice President of Engineering Services

Rachelle VanDeventer, Vice President of Industry Relations

Lance Binoniemi, Vice President of Government Affairs