Covid-19 virus graphic

COVID-19
Resources

Response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been evolving around the country and numerous questions have arisen at every level about the forest products industry’s response to the virus, restrictions on operations, and safety for workers in general.

On a number of these issues, the American Wood Council (AWC) has been very active with federal agencies, is continuing to monitor state and federal policies and their implementation, and has assisted member companies and the forest product and construction industries where resources allow.

Essential Workforce Guidance

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), a division of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), has released federal guidance that recognizes “workers who support the manufacture and distribution of forest products, including, but not limited to timber, paper, and other wood products” in its list of essential workers.

Further, the DHS list has now been updated to include supply chains of Essential Industries. Added to the section on Critical Manufacturing is: Workers necessary for the manufacturing of materials and products needed for medical supply chains, and for supply chains associated with transportation, energy, communications, food and agriculture, chemical manufacturing, nuclear facilities, the operation of dams, water and wastewater treatment, emergency services, and the defense industrial base. Additionally, workers needed to maintain the continuity of these manufacturing functions and associated supply chains.

In version 3.0 of CISA’s list, residential construction and the supply chain for construction are both included in the list of essential industries.

Workplace Safety

In response to a request from the National Association of Manufacturers, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have provided this letter and additional guidance on safe manufacturing operations during the COVID-19 outbreak.

As an extra precaution for all of our industry workplaces to consider, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has released updated “Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19.” The guidance outlines steps workplaces can take to reduce workers’ risk of exposure, as well as how an outbreak may affect workplaces.

Online Education

As in-person education events have been cancelled or postponed across the nation, AWC has been reaching out to the building code and structural engineering community to offer assistance, as we are equipped to provide remote education quite easily. In addition to AWC’s complimentary eCourses and monthly complimentary webinars, AWC is also delivering complimentary continuing education webinars that allow obtaining required continuing education credit, especially popular now that many are confined to their homes.

Demobilizing Construction Sites

Abandoned and unprotected construction sites shut down because of the pandemic pose a risk to the community. AWC developed a free webinar with guidance for builders to leave their construction site as reasonably fire safe as possible. The guidance is based on Chapter 33 of the 2018 International Fire Code, Chapter 33 of the 2018 International Building Code, and NFPA Standards 1 and 241. View the presentation slides and webinar recording here.

Standards for Code Officials

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many building officials and engineers are working from home. The International Code Council recently reported survey results that indicated 23% of code officials did not have access to hard copy code books in order to complete reviews of building plans for approval. As compliance with AWC standards and reports are often required for building code compliance, AWC has made all of them available for free view-only access on the AWC website. Building and fire officials who are members of AWC’s Code Official Connection program are also able to get one full-access electronic copy of an AWC standard for free at sign up. If you know of code officials who are not yet part of the Code Official Connections program, they can register for free here.