Following our previous blog article on a COVID-19 Top 10 Checklist for Construction Equipment Operators, we thought our readers would be interested in some guidance to help with managing their entire construction operations as a whole.
COVID’s impact will forever change the construction industry in many positive ways forcing a digital transformation. For example, JCB has started to sell machines online for the first time in its history – and a Dorset landscaping and groundworks contractor has become the first customer to place an order.
By following Government advice, planning and preparing in advance, and implementing the guidance that Government and industry-leading associations are publishing, it is possible to undertake most daily work activities safely for your customers and employees.
Some of the suggested measures that have been published so far to keep a safe environment include:
- Communicate the importance to follow the recommended two-metre social distancing guidelines where possible
- Take control of how your people arrive, enter and leave the workplace to meet social distancing guidelines by marking directions, safe distance markers and more
- Where it is not possible to follow the two-metre guidelines in relation to an activity, like sharing a platform, communicate what is expected including mitigating precautions and also share what non-critical activities can be avoided
- Ensure first aid risk assessments and communication points have been updated to include additional COVID-19 risks especially how the potentially delayed response from emergency services may be an issue
- Communication is key, so keep reminding, posting and instructing your team as frequently as possible. Remind everyone especially at daily briefings on what specific control measures are necessary, ask if there are any impediments from the staff following them and reinforce how this is necessary to protect them, their colleagues, their families and everyone else
Of course, a more comprehensive list of new requirements will vary depending on your country/region and industry.
4 P’s for COVID-19 Safe Operating Guidance for Construction Companies
People (Staff, Contractors, Customers)
Let’s start with our people, which include employees, contractors, customers and more. Our people’s health and safety are always our top concern, therefore let’s ensure we are doing everything we can to protect them which can include:
- PPE equipment should be provided anywhere personnel are required to work in high COVID-19 risk environments
- Teams should be small (less than 10 people) and should avoid other teams
- Groups of people who MUST work together like boom platform operators should always be scheduled and kept together in all shifts to prevent cross-contamination to other teams (think about new smaller contained pod shift teams that may have to go into quarantine together if someone is potentially infected)
- Where face to face working is essential to try to limit closeness to less than 15 minutes and face masks/shields should be worn
- With any adjustments to changing the way people work, think about how you can provide additional supervision to monitor and manage compliance to help enforce these necessary new changes
- Of course, all PPE equipment should not be shared and be safely disposed of after use, especially one-time-use equipment like disposable gloves
- Lastly, all personnel that are unwell, have symptoms or who live with someone that has symptoms should avoid the workplace to prevent others from getting COVID and remind all staff that we are a team that must look out for the betterment of the group and not us individually to ensure the organization can continue to serve our customers
Processes (Operations, Health & safety measures, Procedures)
When it comes to processes, all your construction operational leads and health & safety officers will have the need to implement new procedures as everyone adopts and learns on what does and does not work. So, ensure there are many ways and means to communicate frequently with everyone to adjust as needed.
- Encourage open discussions and especially feedback around the sharing of concerns in daily briefings to gain critical feedback on what is working and what needs adjusting.
- Reiterate key requirements to keep risks and controls in place and what is considered absolutely necessary to ensure proper enforcement
- With any briefings, hold outside where possible asking everyone to stay a safe distance from each other or within their team pods
- Keep briefings short (under 15 mins if possible)
- When indoors, ensure all areas are well ventilated and open windows
- Decrease participants of meetings to only those that are necessary or create multiple briefing time slots to repeat the same communication to smaller groups
- Rearrange any tasks to enable them to be done by one person where it makes sense and still meets safety measures
Place (Sites, Lots)
When it comes to the office, warehouse, lots and customer sites old habits will need to be adjusted. From how construction equipment gets stored to how people move around sites, provide directions including physical barriers, taped markings and more on what is now expected.
- Reducing the risk from the COVID-19 relies upon everyone within the workplace choosing to act and behave responsibly as a team helping protect each other
- Increase on-site cleaning resources to clean all shared surface areas and touchpoints such as doorknobs, doorbells, key lockers, etc.
- Increase the frequency of waste removal during daily operations and ensure at all sites waste is removed at the end of each day
- When introducing new cleaning products ensure to review COSHH information and update where necessary
- Provide hand-sanitizer where possible and ask all visitors to use it onsite
Product (Equipment, Vehicles, Tools)
Lastly, all vehicles, construction equipment and tools will require a more vigilant review of processes and procedures that goes beyond core existing safety and maintenance checklists. Since COVID can be transmitted more easily on surfaces via the droplets that land, it’s important to educate your staff and implement the right way to cleanse everything the team touches and uses.
- Provide cleaning supplies so everyone can regularly and frequently clean all entry and exit touchpoints including doors, buttons, handles, rails, vehicle cabs, tools, equipment, etc.
- Enforce daily construction equipment operating checklists for safety, maintenance and now COVID
- Instruct everyone to wash their hands before and after using any equipment when possible or consider offering single-use gloves as an alternative
- Try to create ways when personnel need to work together on equipment that they work side by side or facing away from each other rather than face to face
- Lowering the number of personnel operating collaboratively for machinery while maintaining minimum safety procedures
As companies evolve, new industry solutions including Irdeto’s Keystone for construction companies will be the norm. Keystone is a secure keyless entry with an access management solution that is built to be used the way you work.
From managing who has access to equipment to enforce safety, compliance and now COVID checklists is now possible all digitally – no more paper.
And for those who rent equipment, Keystone provides a suite of controls helping with construction equipment contactless rental bookings, handovers, operations and end of rental checks.
By extending the value of your existing telematics and rental software solutions by enabling new ways to control and manage your equipment throughout the entire operations you can now streamline processes, save on overhead and generate more revenue all possible now that you are digitally connected.
So what is your team implementing or learning about COVID?
We would love to hear your thoughts and update this blog with more great ideas companies are learning that work, as we all learn how to adapt to these new ways of working.