LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Energy, water, critical manufacturing and construction of critical or strategic infrastructure are some of the categories deemed essential by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
On-site workers across Louisiana are still working, including a majority of construction workers in Lake Charles.
David Helveston, president and CEO of the Pelican Chapter for Associated Builders and Contractors Inc. (ABC), said many non-critical, non-essential projects have already been paused or postponed, but facilities in Lake Charles can’t just easily close.
“Many of those products, they go into products that users need in their everyday lives," Helveston said. "Those go into things like rubber gloves, paper products, into things that we need in the grocery store and in our hospitals.”
Helveston said safety is a priority for the industry, especially now.
Construction companies are abiding by COVID-19 best practices outlined by the CDC and the local government.
“We’ve seen things like temperature checks on job sites, where you have to have your temperature checked, answering questionnaires, are you showing any symptoms?,” Helveston said. “Once you’re on the job site, there’s certainly a following of all CDC and local guidelines on social distancing.”
Lake Charles-based company Keiland Construction has put their projects on hold and sent employees home since Mar. 23, president Keith DuRousseau said.
“We weren’t sure that in instances where you have craftsman and helpers that we could maintain, 6 ft of distance safely, consistently,” DuRousseau said.
The company has not laid off any of the 30 construction employees and is currently paying them until they have a safety plan in place.
However, there are measures construction employees can take.
“There are certainly no repercussions for individual employee who raises any concerns and that’s something that’s been embedded into the industry even before this time," Helveston said. "In industrial facilities they have what some would call the Stop Work Authorization that empowers anybody in that facility.”
Helveston advises those who have concerns to speak with their company’s HR department.