A shift of construction workers arrives at the Live! Casino Philadelphia site on May 4 as Pennsylvania cautiously inches toward normalcy, with COVID-19 cases beginning to wane.
On Friday, a small number of workers prepped the massive site for the restart of work at 7 a.m. on Monday.
About 130 men are expected, according to Shawn Carlin, a vice president with Gilbane, the Rhode Island-based general contractor heading up the project.
Additional workers will be added throughout the week, he said. About 600 were at the site at the height of work prior to virus restrictions closing them down.
Live! is in the stadium area of South Philly
The $700 million casino site at 900 Packer Avenue adjoins the still-shuttered Citizens Bank Park, home of the virus-benched Phillies baseball team.
Workers at the site said work would start Monday and run until 5 p.m., but with no second shift yet.
Because the site is so massive, about 700 workers could potentially be at the site and not violate virus spacing standards, Carlin told PlayPennsylvania on Friday.
Wolf allowed construction to resume, with many rules
Gov. Tom Wolf has allowed a phased return to work after shutting down all construction as the epidemic peaked.
His order that closed down construction began on March 21. However, some work at Live! had continued under a waiver until at least April 7.
The waiver covered only the work needed to secure and seal the site. To complicate matters, a labor union staged a walk-out at the site in early April after complaining adequate safety precautions were not in place and suggesting the work went beyond the scope of the waiver.
Carlin said the six-foot spacing standard due to the virus will be observed, except for specific situations.
For instance, some glass still awaits installation. There is no practicable way to fit that besides using a lift basket where workers must be close. For such jobs, workers will be in full protective gear, said Carlin.
Additionally, Wolf on Friday further lightened restrictions in 24 counties, but the update did not appear to include any changes for shuttered casinos and horse tracks in PA.
Construction rules set by state
An annotated list of construction guidelines set by the Wolf administration include:
- Every person present at a worksite must wear masks/face coverings.
- Follow protocols if a worker is known to have exposure.
- Follow the Department of Health (DOH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance.
- Require social distancing of at least 6-feet between workers) unless the safety of the workers requires deviation, such as drywalling or team lifting.
- Provide hand wash stations at appropriate locations.
- Implement cleaning or sanitizing protocols at all construction sites.
- Ensure all gatherings are limited to no more than ten people while maintaining 6-foot social distancing even when conducted outside.
- Use virtual meetings to the extent feasible.
- Stagger shifts, breaks, work areas to minimize workers on site.
- Limit tool sharing and sanitize tools if they must be shared.
- Employ jobsite wellness screening based on CDC guidance.
- Prohibit unnecessary visitors to work site and limit deliveries.
- Ensure workers are traveling separately. Employees should not share a vehicle.
- Designate a “Pandemic Safety Officer” for each contractor at the site. The primary responsibility safety officer will be to enforce the social distancing and other requirements of this guidance.
Contractor safety precautions for Live! Casino
Gilbane has signs posted asking workers:
- Are you currently feeling sick?
- Did you take your temperature before leaving for work?
- Are you having breathing issues?
- Have you traveled recently?
- Have you had contact with a Covid patient contact or someone who is being tested?
The Cordish Company, owner of Live!, had hoped to open the facility before the end of the year.
It isn’t yet clear how the shutdown might change that deadline, but it’s a good sign that work is resuming.
Carlin said Cordish has asked if the nearly two months of missed work might be made up for so they can hit their timetable of opening before the end of the year.
“It remains to be seen,” said Carlin. “It could still happen.”