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Construction adapts to new normal in COVID-19 crisis

Three months have passed since the vast majority of construction sites were closed down due to the coronavirus pandemic. Here, Simon Girling, director of SEH French Construction, looks at the impact COVID-19 has had on the industry.

At the end of March, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy, wrote a letter to everyone in the construction sector. It stated that those who could work from home should stay put, construction workers could continue to travel to work if it was safe to do so.

However, in practice, that was not possible – with the exception of head offices where employees could work remotely.

Supply chains were unable to source materials and there were concerns over the health and safety of workers, meaning that sites were forced to close down.

The effects of the lockdown have been widely felt across the construction sector. Workers have had to adapt to the new ‘normal’ since early June when major contractors and housebuilders gradually began to reopen sites with a reduced capacity – only where strict social distancing can be maintained.

The Construction Leadership Council (CLC) issued Site Operating Procedures and the government introduced its own guidance on working safely.

In line with the CLC advice, personnel, and visitors to our SEH French Construction sites, must abide by our COVID-19 Action Plan. It details measures put in place to mitigate against the risk of coronavirus such as introducing handwashing stations, cleaning procedures, and managing how individuals work together.

It also provides advice on how workers should travel to work, using public transport and shared driving only if there is no alternative and how to manage canteen and toilet facilities.

We have also introduced new door handle hangers for sites as another means of precaution; one informing that another contractor is occupying a room and one to let workers know it is empty.

The health and safety of our workers and suppliers has remained our top priority throughout these testing past few months.

There are undoubtedly some challenges ahead for the construction industry as a whole, but we take immense pride in how those who work in the sector stand together and face those challenges head on.

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