CISA updates Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers guidance
On April 17, 2020, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) released “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During Covid-19 Response” Guidance 3.0. To date, 33 states are adopting or referencing the document to define what workers are considered “essential” during this time.
General updates to the guidance include reminding employers to comply with applicable Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements for protecting critical infrastructure workers who remain on or return to the job during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as allowing businesses and government agencies to implement organization-specific measures to protect the workforce while meeting mission needs. Guidance 3.0 also includes clarification that critical infrastructure workers need continued and unimpeded access to areas “to perform functions for community relief and stability; for public safety, security and health; for maintaining essential supply chains and preserving local, regional and national economic well-being.”
Several import aspects of Version 2.0 were retained or strengthened (additions shown as underlines and deletions as strikeouts below). These aspects pertain to workers who:
- administer “the permits and inspections for construction supporting essential infrastructure,” and “support the operation, inspection, and maintenance of essential public works facilities;”
- support “the construction of housing, including those supporting government functions related to the building and development process, such as inspections, permitting and plan review services that can be modified to protect the public health, but fundamentally should continue and enable the continuity of the construction industry serving the construction of housing;”
- Guidance 3.0 clarifies that the bullet applies to the entire construction industry, not limited to residential construction.
- “support the supply chain of building materials from production through application/installation . . . and employees who provide services that enable repair materials;”
- “ensure continuity of building functions” and provide “fire, monitoring and life safety services;”
- “support weather disaster / natural hazard mitigation and prevention activities;”
- “can coordinate the response to emergency ‘at-home’ situations requiring immediate attention;” and
- who are “plumbers, electricians, exterminators, builders (including building and insulation), contractors, HVAC Technicians, landscapers, and other service providers who provide services, including temporary construction, that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences, businesses and buildings such as hospitals, senior living facilities, [and] any temporary construction required to support COVID-19 response.”
- Guidance 3.0 clarifies workers providing temporary construction are essential and broadens the scope of permissible work by striking language specific to hospitals and senior living facilities.
Version 3.0 adds or clarifies, in the Public Works and Infrastructure Support Services, Other Community- or Government-Based Operations and Essential Functions, Commercial Facilities, and Residential/Shelter Facilities and Services sections, essential workers as those:
- “who support the construction, maintenance, or rehabilitation of critical infrastructure.” (Public Works and Infrastructure Support Services)
- “supporting construction materials production, testing laboratories, material delivery services, and construction inspection.” (Public Works and Infrastructure Support Services)
- “support necessary permitting, credentialing, vetting, and licensing operations for essential critical infrastructure workers and their operations”. (Other Community- or Government-Based Operations and Essential Functions)
- “supporting the operations of commercial buildings that are critical to safety, security, and the continuance of essential activities, such as on-site property managers, building engineers, security staff, fire safety directors, janitorial personnel, and service technicians (e.g., mechanical, HVAC, plumbers, electricians, and elevator).”(Commercial Facilities)
- “performing housing and commercial construction-related activities to ensure additional units can be made available to combat the nation’s existing housing supply shortage.” (Residential/Shelter Facilities and Services)