On March 26th, the Town of Watertown revised its construction guidelines to comply with the State of Massachusetts on construction guidance, permitting essential construction services to continue so long as they are consistent with Governor Baker’s State-issued guidelines. The Governor updated his guidance again on March 31st, encouraging “workers performing housing construction related activities, including construction of mixed-use projects that include housing, to ensure additional units can be made available to combat the Commonwealth’s existing housing supply shortage.” Under these guidelines, Arsenal Yards will continue construction of the mixed-use development, including 302 residential units, ensuring revised and stricter conditions.

While Arsenal Yard’s construction site protocols adhere strictly to the State’s Guidance and Procedures, we are taking additional precautions to keep our construction teams safe. We are not taking COVID-19 lightly, and the safety and well-being of our contractors and employees remains our number one priority.

Reduced Workforce
Arsenal Yards reduced its construction workforce by almost 70 percent, taking the number of close to 400 workers onsite every day down to approximately 125 people. By selectively reducing the workforce, we can ensure we maintain social distancing requirements that limit the spread of the virus and have eliminated those trades that are unable to work safely within the Governor’s guidelines.

Onsite Industrial Hygienist and Daily Temperature Checks
Arsenal Yards hired an Industrial Hygienist who will help to conduct a formal, daily protocol to enforce the Commonwealth’s “Zero Tolerance” employee health protection policy. Every single construction worker, without exceptions, will arrive at Arsenal Yards in the morning and complete a drive-thru temperature check, remaining in their vehicle the entire time. If the worker meets temperature requirements set forth by the state and monitored by the Hygienist, they will receive a ticket. Each employee then provides the ticket to their supervisor along with the required self-certification that they are not feeling any symptoms of COVID-19 and have not had close contact with anyone diagnosed with COVID-19 (both instances are defined in the State Guidelines). While all results are kept private, supervisors will keep a daily log to ensure no worker is permitted to work if they are unwell, and to provide our team with a HIPAA-compliant account of the health and well-being of our team of contractors. While the State only requires those workers inside a closed building envelope to be screened, we will follow this procedure for all contractors, working inside or out.

Ongoing Adherence to State Guidelines and Procedures
We are mirroring the state with our Zero Tolerance policy as it relates to site conditions, as well. This includes social distancing requirements for congregating and meetings, restroom facility and hand-washing station requirements, ongoing and consistent sanitization of all surfaces, safety protection equipment recommendations, and more. To see all of the State requirements, view page 4-7 of this Guidance document.

Our belief has not waivered — no project outweighs the importance of health and safety in our communities. We will continue to monitor the Arsenal Yards site to ensure it meets our own strict expectations, and the minimum expectation guidance from our Governor and Town Officials.

For all of the reasons to continue to work, as laid out by Governor Baker, we are especially grateful that we are able to continue to employ around 125 people through this crisis – individuals who do not otherwise have the ability to work from home. We are also hopeful that our work will help to solve the state’s existing housing challenges, and that we will be ready to welcome our greatly suffering retail and restaurant community with open arms at the end of all this.

Further resources:
State of Massachusetts’ list of essential services, including construction
Town of Watertown Construction Guidance