- Construction is a challenging industry at the best of times
Construction is a challenging industry at the best of times
~ Earlier this week the construction industry was given 48 hours to comply with social distancing guidelines. We welcome this.
~ Each building site must now have a designated person to ensure compliance with social distancing. We welcome this.
~ Health and safety standards to protect workers from the Covid-19 virus should be enforced at all construction sites and if not, they should be immediately closed down. We welcome this.
The Government is grappling with Covid-19 and they are doing an excellent job in providing the construction sector and its employees the opportunity to continue to contribute to the country and society in general. Similarly, the construction industry is grappling with the impact of this virus in every factor of our works: and therefore we need every single worker on every single live project to do a good job in line with the COVID-19 guidelines and best practices. Construction is no different to any other sector in these exceptional times. Through our project planning and implementation of COVID-19 Guidance we have adjusted to continue to deliver on our contractual requirements.
In one very important aspect, our construction workers have a head start in managing change and in the implementation of safe systems of works to ensure that our people and our clients are placed first and foremost in the minimization of potential exposure to COVID-19. The Townmore team adheres to a 5 Point PPE Policy so wearing personal protective equipment such as gloves and safety glasses is commonplace. Within our detailed risk assessment process, where identified, we ensure that those required to wear masks do so. This process is vital in the identification of COVID-19 as a live hazard. Potentially high risk activities – with suitable control measures in place – can be reduced to low risk, which enables our industry to continue to contribute to our society.
In fact, construction is one of the few industries where most companies have full-time Health & Safety staff to audit sites, advise, correct and improve in accordance with recognised certified Integrated Management Systems. Significantly, our competent project managers are trained in Managing Safely in Construction which provides the basis of strong management during the COVID-19 crisis. We recognize that while most of our sites are outdoors in the fresh air; Townmore is not complacent in any way about the immense challenges involved in keeping a construction site open at this time. Townmore’s strength during this period is our ability to rapidly change and adjust to the COVID-19 challenge.
We are taking daily advice from industry, health and governmental organisations. We are developing and delivering daily toolbox talks with site workers and introducing innovative approaches and methodologies to our works. Measures implemented so far include placing social distancing to the fore of all we undertake, instructing people to travel to work alone, staggering breaks and encouraging people to clean as they go through hand washing, use of sanitizers, cleaning products and general good hygiene habits as a standard part of what we undertake.
Furthermore, we are monitoring tasks being carried out and finding new approaches to lessen the requirement for coupling up. We have also increased our cleaning dramatically and we are consistently monitoring and enforcing social distancing across our projects and also within our supporting offices and staff. Naturally, it is much easier to manage the office-based teams with many working from home. Office-based workplaces have been re-organised to minimise social interactions and to provide the recommended two meter spacing, as advised by the HSE and Government, ensuring that our safe systems of works are undertaken accordingly and protocols adhered to.
Townmore currently has thirteen live projects across the country that continue to successfully operate in line with best practices. Many of these projects are for critical infrastructure including social housing units in Dublin, Laois, Tipperary and Cork and medical device cleanroom facilities in Wicklow, Dublin and Galway.
Has progress on site slowed down?
Naturally, with the implementation of safety protocols to manage COVID-19 within our organisation, progress on site has reduced. Given the exceptional circumstances we find ourselves in, Townmore considers this is a positive thing. It tells us that our site management and workers are taking account of any new and often daily health and safety protocols introduced to ensure that the safety of our people is first in all that we undertake. This is driven by Townmore’s senior management and implemented by our site management in partnership with our subcontractors and supply chain. There has never been a more stark and immediate shift in on site culture and attitude. We welcome this.