Managing COVID in Construction

Managing COVID in Construction

There have been a lot of big numbers floating around regarding the economic effect of the downturn in the Construction industry due to COVID-19 but an undisputed fact is that lockdown and the effect of the virus has decreased productivity on most if not all UK construction sites. We put some practical tips together for returning to work, how to regain productivity and keep your workers safe and hope they’re helpful! 

1. Complete a risk assessment 

Government guidelines say that completing a risk assessment is number 1. You can find an easy to use risk assessment template here. (risk assessment template). It can be as straightforward as identifying hazards, who might be harmed and what you are doing to control the hazards. 

2. Movement

It’s not really possible for Construction workers to ‘work from home’ but safe return to work is all about being smart. Where possible, discouraging unnecessary movement by creating strategically placed welfare stations may reduce unnecessary travel. Ground markers or encouraging workers to keep 2m distance always will keep safety top of mind. 

3. Signing in

Well ventilated area, one person at a time, use your own pen. 

4. Equipment

Reducing equipment rotation (using own tools) and increased cleaning / use of spray & wipes after use may help stop the spread of the virus. Clean tools, operating handles, ladders, and handrails at regular intervals. 

5. Cleaning

Frequent cleaning of high-touch areas using normal cleaning products will help. Increasing handwashing stations is not always practical – hand sanitiser kills the bug! 

6. Work zones & teams

Separating sites into work zones to keep different groups of workers separated as much as practical for the duration of the project may also be useful. During the crisis large offices separated their workforce into 2 working alternate weeks. 

7. Inductions & traffic flow

Hold site inductions outdoors where possible, and if possible, create a one-way flow of people within the worksite to prevent congestion in high traffic areas such as corridors and lifts. Staggering break times between teams even more than usual to relieve traffic on welfare facilities may help. 

8. Welfare facilities

These should be cleaned regularly as the virus stays on metal for at least 12 hours, so wipe metal surfaces after each use. 

9. Meetings

Avoid in-person meetings with the use of technology – the free version of Zoom has a 40-minute limit. 

10. PPE

Encouraging face masks and disposable gloves where practical may help but the research is divided about whether face masks make a measurable difference, especially if you are touching your face or it is a distraction. 

11. Workers

If a worker develops a high temperature or consistent cough they should go home immediately. 

SMART sites: using wearable technology to track workers and alert site managers about clusters could be a good strategy for your site. Beable, an award-winning technology created by EMS is an easy-to-use system using self-monitoring and wearable devices (no phones) and simple on-site beacon self-installation. Contact EMS today to find out more.