In efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19, the Government have issued a variety of restrictions and guidance for both citizens and organisations.
These restrictions are intended to promote social distancing, reduce physical contact and encourage people to stay home as much as possible.
However, the Government confirmed that many construction related projects are essential services, including: critical maintenance, building safety inspections and emergency repairs. With this in mind, construction businesses continue to operate, as long as they implement a variety of site procedures to protect their employees and minimise the risk of spreading COVID-19.
If your construction business fails to comply with these procedures, the government could require you to shut down.
We have the following guidance, which can help ensure your business is meeting site standards, keeping employees healthy, and promoting continued operations during these unprecedented times.
Site Access Points
In regards to controlling your construction site’s access points, be sure to consider the following measures:
• Reduce traffic on site
Firstly, you should consider prohibiting entry for any non-essential visitors. In addition, utilise staggered start and finish times for your workers to limit site congestion and physical contact.
Also, consider restricting the number of people in attendance at any site inductions, and consider holding them outdoors whenever practicable.
• Social distancing Practises
You should consistently monitor site access points to ensure social distancing guidelines are being adhered to. This could mean changing the number of available access points on-site.
When employees are waiting to enter the worksite, encourage them to keep 2-3 metres of distance between one another as much as possible. If any work, procedure requires the use of a vehicle (e.g. a forklift) on-site, have the driver remain inside the vehicle as much as possible —if the load will allow it. This will reduce physical contact between staff.
• Make Sanitation a Priority
Ensure employees wash their hands before entering and exiting the worksite, as well as before and after handling all materials, goods and equipment.
Set up cleaning routines, for any common contact surfaces on-site (e.g. scanners, turnstiles, screens, telephones and desks).
Lastly, be sure to temporarily remove or disable any site entry systems that require skin contact where possible, such as fingerprint scanners
Eating Arrangements and Onsite Canteens
Construction sites are usually required to provide employees with a means of heating food and making hot drinks (e.g. kettles and microwaves), the Government confirmed that these exceptional circumstances call for such equipment to be removed from worksites where it is not possible to keep the equipment sanitised at all times.
In addition, employees are not allowed to leave the worksite to eat during this time; they should be required to bring pre-prepared meals and reusable drinking bottles from home. Apart from these changes, you should make sure you promote the following eating and canteen arrangements onsite:
• Keep it hygienic
Only allow employees to eat in selected areas and provide hand-cleaning facilities or hand sanitiser stations at the entrance of any area where workers are eating, You should also require employees to clean their hands before and after eating.
All eating areas need to be cleaned after each break and shift, and this includes chairs, door handles, vending machines and payment devices.
If you provide a drinking water stations, ensure you implement enhanced cleaning measures to keep the tap sanitised.
Finally, instruct employees to put their rubbish in the bin straight away and not leave it for someone else to clean up.
• Limit physical contact
Try to stagger break times to reduce overcrowding and physical contact in eating areas. Ensure workers keep to at least 2-3 metres of distance between one another while eating.
• External Catered food
If your site has food catering for your employees, use extreme caution.
Only allow pre-prepared and wrapped food, and try not to use eating or drinking utensils from the caterer. When paying for food, use a contactless payment system as much as possible.
Ensure your site offers the following welfare facilities as standard on your worksite:
• Toilet facilities
Try to restrict the number of employees permitted to use the toilet facilities at any one time, and ensure employees wash their hands before and after using the toilet.
Provide adequate rubbish bins for hand towels, and conduct routine clearances. Be sure enhance any cleaning regimes for all toilet facilities. Specifically focusing on door handles, locks and flush systems. Lastly, where possible try to avoid using portable toilets on-site.
• Changing facilities and shower rooms
Comparable to toilet facility standards, be sure to limit the number of employees using each facility and ensure adequate rubbish bins and removal processes are in place.
In addition, consider staggering start and finish times for employees to further limit facility crowding, and consider increasing the number of facilities available on-site to help reduce physical contact with staff.
Travelling to and from Sites
Where possible, try to encourage employees to travel alone, using their own personal means of transport. If employees usually use public transport to get to work, they should consider walking or cycling if this feasible.
Be sure you have suitable arrangements on-site for parking cars and bicycles in a way that limits physical contact between staff. Also, offer handwashing facilities or hand sanitiser at all site entrances and exits. Lastly, make sure you consider how if an employee falls ill on-site, how would they return home?
Some General Best Practices
Apart from these specific topics, you should also consider the following practices on your worksite:
• Avoid close working
Any non-essential work that requires very close contact between employees should be postponed. Further, all work and meetings should be planned to reduce contact between staff.
Reusable personal protective equipment (PPE) must be cleaned after each use, and not shared. Any single-use PPE should be disposed of immediately after use. Try avoiding the use hoists or lifts when possible, but if they must be used, lower their capacity to reduce congestion and frequently clean all touchpoints.
• Prioritise handwashing
You should promote regular handwashing on-site by offering a variety of handwashing stations with adequate soap and fresh water. Alternatively provide hand sanitiser stations when fresh water is not available.
Regularly clean the handwashing and sanitising stations, and replenish the soap and sanitiser as required.
If you would like any help with your site risk management or insurance needs, contact us today for additional COVID 19 resources, industry-specific guidance and insurance solutions.
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