The pressures inflicted on the construction industry by Covid-19 were truly unprecedented. On March 23rd the world changed for everyone but unlike many other sectors, the Construction Industry was instructed to adapt and carry on. Maintaining production for concerned Clients while keeping our workforce safe in previously unchartered territory was going to be challenging. Suddenly we felt very alone.
Our submission describes how we rose to the challenge and not only kept going but excelled. End of year data analysis shows that we produced significant improvements in our health, safety and wellbeing performance – reducing the frequency of accidents and incidents on our sites during these difficult times. Few would claim to have been fully prepared when COVID struck. We had to do something very few of us thought we would ever have to do and consult our Disaster Recovery & Business Continuity Plan. We assembled our Emergency Response Team to formulate our COVID strategy.
In hindsight the strategy issued to our Sites in the first week of the pandemic set our standard. While it had to be adapted on several occasions to address the ever-changing situation, it proved to be the backbone of our response. Key to this strategy was communication. Roles were issued to the Emergency Response Team and Head Office was set up as a COVID safe control centre serving multiple construction sites. The ERT Co-ordinator ensured all employees were kept informed of developments, including those who worked from home. While many of the actions taken at the outset became commonplace – we believe our actions were always ahead of the curve. Our team introduced a regime that ensured a successful outcome for the business and the safety of our employees. We believe certain aspects of our initial strategy were key to success.
Contactless Biometric Face Scanners were introduced and combined with staggered shift starts and break times. Temperature and Welfare checks were introduced. COVID Management meetings – largely held remotely via Teams ensured lines of communication remained open between Head office, Sites and Clients. Risk assessments and Operating Procedures were generated and briefed via socially distanced briefings in outdoor settings. Our ERT ensured that PPE was sourced and Face Fitting completed where required. Operational reviews considered the effect of the pandemic on supplies – allowing us to proactively react to potential shortages by re-scheduling programmes to maintain production.
We were acutely aware of the impact the pressure of the pandemic could have on the mental wellbeing of the team and wanted to ensure everyone had a break to recover during the stress of the first wave. Predicting the ideal time to temporarily suspend Sites was difficult. We chose the period either side of Easter to stand down two sites. Those weeks proved to be the height of the first wave in Wales – the ideal time for our workforce to be safely isolated at home. When the CLC took up the cause and issued their SOP we combined aspects not already in place with our own.