Construction company implements new guidelines to protect workers’ health
The Lakeside Residential Complex construction is continuing as planned despite the COVID-19 pandemic, and construction crew members are implementing additional safety protocols while they work. However, due to the uncertainty of supplies, the apartment complex’s completion date is subject to change.
Last week, Governor Ron DeSantis issued a stay-at-home order, which labels certain workers and businesses as either essential or non-essential. Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings classified construction as an “essential business,” allowing construction to continue countywide.
Winter Park Construction, the general contractor behind the Lakeside build, has decided to move forward with the project.
In a statement, Winter Park Construction President Jeff Forrest said, “The safety of our employees and of our community continues to be a top priority.” He also said the company is “activating an even higher level of safety protocol with an enhanced focus on hygiene and on avoidance of the spread of germs.”
Winter Park Construction has reportedly implemented several new safety precautions regarding the virus, including cleaning job sites regularly, installing informational hygiene signs, limiting the number of visitors allowed in job sites, and reminding workers to wash their hands frequently for at least 20 seconds.
Scott Bitikofer, assistant vice president of Facilities Services, said that a nurse practitioner has been hired to take the temperature of workers who report to the site daily. However, The Washington Post reported that doctors and other experts have since called this method inefficient in helping to flatten the curve.
Winter Park Construction said that their safety responses were guided by the Center for Disease Control, the Florida Department of Health, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
A partial completion of the Lakeside Residential Complex was originally scheduled for the beginning of the 2020-21 school year, and the building was intended to be available as a housing option for students in August. However, concerns have been raised as to whether or not this pandemic will change that initial completion date.
“We are concerned about the supply chain, that we won’t be able to get the parts here,” said President Grant Cornwell. “If we can’t get enough laborers, we can’t get enough painters, plumbers, electricians, and drywall hangers … If any one of those trades doesn’t come through, we’re not going to finish on time. So right now it’s very touch-and-go.”
Similarly, Bitikofer said that he does not know if the pandemic will affect the construction timetable.
Despite these concerns, Forrest was optimistic: “We are pleased with the progress [of Lakeside]” and “all parties are working in unison to meet deadlines for this exciting new addition to the campus,” he said.
Housing Selection will begin April 15 for students with Lakeside priority and April 20 for all other students. If anyone has questions or concerns regarding housing, they can contact the Office of Residential Life & Explorations by phone at (407) 646-2649 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.