2020 spelled unimaginable shifts in the way we live, communicate, and, importantly in this instance, work. Most notably, it’s been hailed as the year of the remote switch. This has led to significant business focuses on everything from long-distance communication to increased cybersecurity.
Meanwhile, sectors that can’t feasibly operate from home have been forgotten and, in some cases, vilified. Initial lockdowns, in particular, left real uncertainty as to whether construction workers could continue operating at all, with those who attempted to do so often falling foul to public abuse/misunderstandings amidst widespread panic and fear.
Luckily, this latest lockdown has come complete with the stipulation that construction workers can continue operating, but confusion remains regarding social distancing.
The official stance is that social distancing of at least 2 meters should be followed in workplaces wherever possible. But, as some construction managers found out the hard way, many jobs such as scaffolding and even general construction, require two, often with much less distance between them than stipulated.
This has led to obvious struggles in creating safe construction spaces, but it’s by no means an impossible goal. Rather, construction managers should consider the following ways to build a safe work environment without compromising the closeness construction relies on.
With large-scale construction sites sometimes catering hundreds, it’s plain that, steps must be taken to limit the spread/exposure of potential infection even where distancing isn’t possible. Hence why many construction managers have created bubbles, allowing for the collaborative work necessary while still eliminating risk. Additions such as staggered entries and break times mean that it should be simple enough to keep said bubbles separate, making it easier to not only keep teams safe but also to track risks in moments if an employee does fall ill.
Even within those bubbles, eliminating infection where possible is a must. For this, construction managers must eliminate shared tools/transportation. Rather, they should designate these necessities, with toolboxes for each team member, while one member of the bubble becomes responsible for a fully-equipped vehicle where necessary, including breakdown protections such as puncture repair kits and a bag-in-box fuelling system. Teams should then be entrusted to take complete care of those tools alone, including cleaning and maintenance so that they can rest 100% certain their gear is germ-free.
As of mid-January, construction workers are eligible for quick-fire covid testing with results in thirty minutes, even if they show no signs of symptoms.
As such, the last step towards managing the safest possible construction zone is to conduct once-weekly testing on every member of your aforementioned bubbles. If a positive test returns, the entire bubble in question should self-isolate, while other teams can safely continue to operate.
A final word
While health and safety have always been a priority within construction, it looks very different now from the way it did a year ago. Luckily, as you can see from these pointers, even where social distancing isn’t possible, you can keep your teams safe, happy, and more importantly, healthy.