Associated General Contractors: Activating construction industry is a positive step

Construction projects, supply chain will be able to resume operations May 11.

SAN JUAN — The Puerto Rico Chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC-PR), whose members represent 80% of the construction activity on the island, issued a press release calling “the reactivation of the construction industry and the 26,000 jobs it represents” a positive step.

The association is part of the government’s Construction Council and represents the construction sector in the government’s Economic Task Force, both appointed by the governor of Puerto Rico.

“Reopening the construction sector is an affirmative and important step to achieve the necessary balance between the health and economic wellbeing of the people of Puerto Rico. We acknowledge the efforts of the administration of Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced to protect the people of Puerto Rico from the threat COVID-19,” said Umberto Donato, president of AGC-PR.

The association said Donato also recognized the “valuable role” of Manuel Laboy, secretary of the Department of Economic Development and Commerce, who, with AGC-PR, “advocated for the reactivation of the construction industry given the low risk of transmission and significant economic impact” of this sector.

“Besides being an essential service and motor of economic activity, the construction industry has a low Relative Transmission Rate of 1.5%, which is very low, according to a recent report form the COVID-19 Medical Task Force,” the release reads.

AGC-PR has launched a program to educate its members and the industry about the health and safety guidelines issued by local and federal government agencies, including the Puerto Rico Occupational Safety and Health Administration (PR OSHA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

“Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the construction industry already had to comply with strict safety and cleaning requirements in projects. Now, in light of our new reality, we just need to adopt the new state and federal guidelines to minimize the risks posed by COVID-19 and increase the frequency of other existing procedures. We will do this in collaboration and constant communication with the Puerto Rico Department of Labor, PR/OSHA and our health and occupational health committee. Therefore, AGC-PR is providing to members and industry colleagues information on how to protect their construction crews and staff.

“During the week of May 4, we will be contacting government agencies in charge of construction projects to establish a work schedule according to the reactivation of projects and under new health guidelines. In this context, agency heads play a vital role to immediately enable compliance with the mandate of the most recent executive order,” Donato said.

The release adds that Donato thanked AGC-PR’s board, former presidents and staff for their commitment.

“During the last seven weeks the association has not only been the leading advocate of the construction sector before the government of Puerto Rico, but has also celebrated 10 virtual seminars with an average attendance of 300 people per session to provide orientation about a diversity of issues that range from contracts and safety, to finance, federal assistance and health,” the release reads.

“It’s important that we embrace the opportunity to modernize Puerto Rico’s infrastructure after the hurricanes of 2017 and the earthquakes of 2020. The immediate investment of the federal funds assigned to Puerto Rico, ensuring proper, transparent and strategic use, will minimize the economy impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and reactive economic activity in all sectors,” Donato said.

The association assured that its members “are ready to resume their projects under the guidelines to protect the health and safety of its employees, who are the backbone of the industry.”