On Friday, the Michigan Infrastructure & Transportation Association (MITA) asked Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to deem all construction field operations – including work fixing roads and bridges – throughout the state as non-essential so employees can stay home and protected from the COVID-19 virus.
“While the lack of traffic and an already mild spring may feel like an opportune time, we believe it is important to protect construction employees by putting their personal health, safety and well-being first,” said MITA Executive Vice-President Mike Nystrom. “The infrastructure industry must do our part to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and help reduce the pressures on the medical and service professionals working hard on the front lines dealing with the worst of this crisis.”
The request was made after the MITA Board of Directors passed a resolution to protect the health and safety of frontline employees. In addition to potentially increasing the spread of the disease, continued industry operations would put a drain on the scarce supply of necessary medical equipment like N-95 masks, gloves and hand sanitizer, when hospitals and other health care providers are experiencing severe shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE). MITA has encouraged all members who have excess PPE to donate these goods to local hospitals or other health care facilities.
The MITA Board resolution applies to all construction field operations, not just public works construction, and recognizes that some construction may continue to be considered critical. MITA will work with Gov. Whitmer's administration to determine critical projects. The industry will close down projects in a timely, safe and effective manner once a determination is made. The resolution also recognizes that contractors should be protected from damages and penalties while trying to be socially responsible. “We are hopeful the Governor will direct all agencies to recognize the industry’s contractual rights during this difficult time, and be flexible with schedules as we maneuver through these unprecedented challenges,” Nystrom said. “While a difficult decision, this action will protect employees, their loved ones, and everyone else trying to avoid the virus. Doing our part to minimize the spread of COVID-19 now will ultimately help us move the state forward faster when the time comes.” Infrastructure industry representatives from across the state stand together in supporting the Governor's “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order for all non-essential workers.