Joe Fowler

Joe Fowler

2020 President, Home Builders Association of Greater Austin

First, I would like to take a moment to wish you and your family health and safety during these uncertain times. It is in moments like these we can truly put into perspective the things that are important in life. I know personally that I am grateful for the time I am able to spend with my wife and children, and that my company is still able to operate at a time when many businesses are struggling.

COVID-19 is different than any emergency our community has faced, and it has changed our lives.  Recently,  a number of industries, including construction, were deemed essential to sustain public health, government safety and the economy and society as a whole.  While the construction industry is built on safety, and is uniquely positioned for implementing the more rigorous safety measures required during these challenging times, it is not without a cost.  By cost, I’m not just talking about money, but also the human factor such as the limited number of employees able to work on a project, staff working remotely and many other challenges we all face daily.  However, as the governing authorities have determined that businesses such as construction are “so vital to the United States that the incapacity or destruction of such systems and assets would have a debilitating impact on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination of those matters,” we stand prepared to serve our community as safely as possible.

I am proud of how our industry has responded to this new normal. Many of our members reported participating in national Safety Stand Down events — meetings with workers at the job site — or even remotely — to review the applicable safety and health guidelines in place for COVID-19. Many sites are now holding regular stand down meetings in addition to employing safety measures such as social distancing, wearing masks and goggles, disinfecting tools shared among workers and setting up hand sanitizing stations to name just a few.

Additionally, not only are we holding ourselves accountable, but we are also looking out for each other and our community by employing the “See Something — Say Something” initiative, encouraging all members of the building community to keep an eye out not only on their job sites, but also on others sites throughout our area. Should you see a job site that is out of compliance, reach out to the company and let them know what you saw. The more we can pull together and help each other, the better for our whole industry. It is truly incumbent upon everyone to do their part to ensure the safety of our families, employees and our community and to keep Austin building. 

If you need help finding resources for your safety protocols, the HBA has set up a Safety Information and Documents section on our COVID-19 web page where we have collected safety planning information and documents from national, state and local sources. Here you will find access to items like sample safety response plans, job site safety posters and template letters, many in both English and Spanish. 

Thank you all again for your exceptional representation of our industry. As we continue to navigate life during COVID-19, remember that we are all in this together.

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