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27 July 2020 | by Richard Brook
“From the first recorded cases of Covid-19 in the UK at the start of the year we’ve been focusing on managing and mitigating the risks to both projects and people across our sites.
“We implemented Government guidelines from day one with increased health and safety signage, tool box talks and regular morning briefings, eventually moving these outside as an extra precaution.
“We’ve also applied more site management resource to each of our projects to help implement Government Guidelines. This has also allowed us to build flexibility into our programmes so that social distancing can be observed and more contractors can be on site safely.
“As part of this, we chose not to furlough staff straight away as this has given us the flexibility to bolster site management and increase resource to help with future planning, commercial decisions, senior management, QS and internal administration.”
“By assigning more management resource to each project and revisiting our work and task schedules we have built social distancing into our programmes. We’ve increased welfare provision on site and have staggered breaks, and we’ve altered access and egress into routes onto site and to work areas. We’ve also extended onsite access to include weekend working, which gives contractors the space they need to operate safely.
“To ensure we keep people as safe as possible our daily delivery team briefings now take place using Microsoft Teams. This helps us to get daily insight into any onsite challenges as well as ensure that our people still feel connected and part of a team, albeit remote. These briefings also help us to plan ahead regarding PPE provision, contractor movements, potential materials shortages and other supply chain challenges.”
“We have also moved all of our managers out of hotels into residential accommodation, which has allowed contracting teams to isolate together. This ensures our teams safe, minimise the risk to others and keep programmes on track. Our supply chain has taken the same approach.”
“As we had concerns about the long term availability of some materials, we have completed specific Covid-19 risk registers for each project with a view to managing the procurement of materials and fully understanding lead times and product availability. We’ve continued this process as the pandemic has spread and it now comprises resource availability as well as the logistical challenges of deliveries, waste management and accommodation.
“As our core focus is design and build, we have added flexibility and can modify designs where material or product availability has been compromised. Where necessary we are working with clients and the supply chain to change specifications and find alternatives. This gives us the perfect balance between project objectives, product availability and project timelines.
“This, along with careful collaboration with our extensive supply chain, has allowed us to keep our contractors both safe and productive across our sites.”
“It’s difficult to plan for the future with any certainty as we are living and working in unprecedented times, but we are trying to anticipate potential pain points and put alternative strategies in place.
“In particular we are reviewing our building methodologies and looking at ways to reduce time onsite by increasing offsite production. We’re also trying to forecast the materials, PPE and welfare needs of our team, supply chain and clients over the next six months so that we can make more informed decisions.
“Our ability to flex and adapt in the face of Covid-19 is testament to the rigorous operating procedures and health and safety standards we have in place. ISO 9001, 14001 and 18001 accreditation’s as well as Safe Contractor and Fitwel, give us a robust foundation on which to change and adapt and we’ll continue to adhere to these important standards and principles.
“Although there will be many challenges to come, we will not compromise safety or the quality of our projects. We are taking a keen interest in how other countries’ construction industries are responding, identifying new best practice and maintaining the robust measures we’ve already put in place.”
“Uncertainty is the only certainty right now. We’re doing everything we can to keep our people safe, and that will remain our priority.”
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