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As the scope and impacts of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continue to grow, everyone is struggling to adjust.

Article prepared by Vision Estimating.

The spread of Covid-19 within the UK will impact significantly on construction activities during the course of the coming weeks in the form of delay and disruption to on-site activities and project supply chains.

Of course, the absolute first step is for every company to make sure that it takes proper precautions to protect its employees and their families. Most construction work cannot be done remotely, or properly performed while social distancing, but steps can be taken to blunt the growth of COVID-19.

On some project, companies have now embedded social distancing into their daily routines, including measures such as:

  • staggered work
  • social distancing in canteens
  • employees taking lunch individually
  • individual travel

We advises every client to follow good practice in emergency planning, preparedness and response.

It’s good practice for employers to:
  • Keep everyone updated on actions being taken to reduce risks of exposure in the workplace
  • Ensure employees who are in a vulnerable group are strongly advised to follow social distancing guidance
  • Make sure everyone’s contact numbers and emergency contact details are up to date
  • Make sure managers know how to spot symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) and are clear on any relevant processes, for example – sickness reporting and sick pay, and procedures in case someone in the workplace is potentially infected and needs to take the appropriate action
  • Make sure there are places to wash hands for 20 seconds with soap and water.

This can be achieved by adopting the following steps:

  • Run induction talks on entry to work and hold regular ‘toolbox ’ talks individually to constantly reinforce new safety guidelines. Building sites are complex workplaces and employers and employees are working together to addresses any issues of concern that arise.
  • Develop a response plan for if someone in the workplace becomes ill with suspected COVID-19. This should include the immediate response e.g. isolate the individual and contact the local health authority and also how you plan to identify persons who may be at risk without stigma or discrimination. Refer to our COVID 19 guidance.
  • Consider making project management meetings teleconferences and temporarily eliminating group toolbox talks, or doing so with substantially smaller groups ( 2 people ). Of course, none of this should come at the cost of other critical safety measures on a project.
  • The one-metre distancing measures must be maintained. Avoid using biometrics system to enter the site. Ask personnel to sign in by using their own pen.
  • Reduce the site personnel.  This will reduce the risk of spreading the virus to the whole team and allow the site manager to manage and plan tasks.
  • Please avoid any task that required group cooperation at one place at the same time. ( steel installation )
  • Provide PPE ( FFP3 Masks) and gloves . Make sure the Full induction is provided. on how to wear a FFP 3 mask correctly.

Those visiting and working on site  the site must undertake extra
risk assessment as fallow:

  • Obtain a box of disposable gloves, mask  and a roll of small garbage bags will be available
  • Arrive on site, sign in and attend Induction. These visiting the site required PPE
  • Put on a pair of disposable gloves and mask
  • Avoid shaking hands with anyone and attempt to maintain at least a metre gap between you and any other person. DO NOT PASS YOUR TABLET TO THE SITE REPRESENTATIVE FOR SIGNATURE
  • At the completion of the visit/work, remove your gloves by turning them inside out, before touching the car door/bike cycle etc. Place gloves in a bag inside the car for disposal at the end of the day.
  • Wash your hands when possible, should this be on a site with good welfare facilities, carry extra gloves with you.
  • Keep in contact with your line manager for further information as it becomes available.
  • Tools must not be left unattended at any time. – DO NOT SHARE TOOLS
  • Make sure the site canteen and resting room is clean and hand sanitiser available.
  • Frequently wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. When soap and running water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand rub with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands that are visibly soiled.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people ( public) during working hours.
  • Make sure the operatives do not attend welfare areas or resting rooms at the same time.
  • Make sure that these attending the site do not use public transport

Develop a site continuity plan for an outbreak, which covers:

  • How your organisation will continue to function if workers, contractors and suppliers cannot come to your place of business
  • Communicate to workers and contractors about the plan and their role in it.
  • Ensure the plan addresses mental health and social consequences of a case of COVID-19 in the workplace
  • Preparing for a possibility of future closure of the site.

What to do if an employee has been with potential exposures to COVID-19

In all workplaces where exposure to the COVID-19 may occur, prompt identification and isolation of potentially infectious individuals is a critical first step in protecting workers, visitors, and others at the worksite.
Immediately isolate people suspected of having COVID-19. In worksites, move potentially infectious people to a location away from workers, customers, and other visitors. if possible and without compromising aviation safety. Take steps to limit the spread of the person’s infectious respiratory secretions, including by providing them with a facemask and asking them to wear it, if they can tolerate doing so.

Note: A surgical mask on a patient or other sick person should not be confused with PPE for a worker; the mask acts to contain potentially infectious respiratory secretions at the source (i.e., the person’s nose and mouth)

If possible, isolate people suspected of having COVID-19 separately from those with confirmed cases of the virus to prevent further transmission, including in screening, triage, or healthcare facilities. Restrict the number of personnel entering isolation areas, including the room of a patient with suspected/confirmed COVID-19.

Protect workers in close contact with the sick person by using additional administrative control, safe work practices and PPE. Use the 111 online coronavirus service to find out what to do.

Prepared by Vision Estimating.

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