Maintaining site safety during a global pandemic

04 March 2021

Site safety is the number one priority for any general contractor and teams take great care to establish safety protocols that can be understood and enforced by all. Much of what makes for a safe constructionsite can be boiled down to communication, coordination and repetition. The Lead Superintendent develops the site safety plan with instructions for organizing different labor teams, developing safe habits, and reporting safety incidents. That plan is then taught to every other Superintendent, Foremen, and laborer who works on the site.

When the Covid-19 pandemic began, construction was deemed an essential service which meant that constructionsites stayed open and teams still came to work onsite. While some construction tasks happen outside, the interior work is crucial and can’t always been done while maintaining 6 feet of distance. As a result, new protocols had to be established to incorporate safety protocols for social distancing but to also create an environment where teams can work in close quarters as well.

The major changes that can be seen in constructionsite safety protocols fall into four main categories:

Protective Equipment + Social Distancing

In addition to steel lined boots, hardhats and eye goggles construction workers are now expected to bring a facemask to wear at work. Teams are also expected to maintain social distancing as much as possible. Where it is impossible, teams rely on temperature checks, symptom monitoring and contact tracing to limit exposure for those working in close contact. Social distancing goes beyond the space between individuals, it also refers to the sharing of construction tools and machinery onsite too. Where teams may have shared a set of tools in the past, they are now expected to only use the set assigned to them.

Sickness Protocols

Like any work environment operating during the Covid-19 pandemic there is always the chance that an employee may come onsite while sick with the coronavirus. Unfortunately, the symptoms of the virus can sometimes come on quickly and without warning meaning that a worker may fall ill so quickly that they are unable to leave the jobsite immediately and without help. To address this potential and concerning situation, Focus construction safety plans now include sickness protocols which outline what to do if someone onsite is ill or confirms a coronavirus diagnosis or exposure.

All Focus jobsites now have a sick room where workers are instructed to go should they feel ill and cannot immediately leave the jobsite themselves. If a Covid-19 diagnosis is confirmed, the construction team follows a process for contact tracing and alerting all who may have been exposed. Additionally, areas where the worker may have been will be immediately closed for cleaning and sanitization.

Cleaning and Sanitation

Constructionsites are inherently hard to keep clean. With workers pouring concrete, sawing wood, installing drywall - construction is messy. Traditionally, keeping sites clean meant efficiently managing waste but the impacts of Covid-19 require a new level of onsite cleaning and sanitation. On Focus jobsite, the site leadership team is now responsible for daily cleaning and sanitation of the site with special attention and tools being used in high-touch areas. Places like the common areas, skips, and elevators are being treated with antimicrobial spray which helps to prevent viruses like the coronavirus from being able to survive on the surface and infect those who come in contact with the surface.

Construction Site Integrity

The last major change to site safety protocols as it relates to the pandemic is related to site accessibility. In the past, it was common to hold construction meetings onsite or have various stakeholders visiting the site but now those allowed onsite is strictly monitored and limited to necessary visits only. Visitors are required to be approved by site leadership before their visit and must check in at the Focus field office before they gain access to the site. By maintaining a bubble around the site, teams are able to limit outside exposure for workers and site supervision staff.

The number one goal of any Focus construction team is to maintain site safety and operate an incident free job. While the impacts of Covid-19 have complicated that process, our team of construction professionals along with the help of our human resources department quickly adapted to the new normal and adjusted site safety protocols to keep employees safe and healthy.

To learn more about Focus’ safety procedures or the experience of our construction team reach out today.

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