So, by now, we’re all aware of the Coronavirus, or COVID-19 as it’s become known, which has been the biggest pandemic for over 100 years.
The impact on the world has been devastating. The speed of the infection rates and resulting spread is unprecedented in living memory in the UK. Together with the resulting loss of life, many nations have struggled to cope with its impact; it’s fair to say that we have been caught off-guard.
Due to the rapid mutation of the virus, the scientific profession has been kept in doubt. Luckily, we have more advanced research tools at our disposal since the last pandemics, which equip the medical profession well in their search for an antidote, however, in order to complete the work, time is required to develop and test a successful vaccine, during which time more lives will be lost, and we can only make assumptions at the future effect on the impact that will be felt socially and economically; within the construction industry we have felt the effects on our supply chain, workforce and finances, and all areas of the industry need to be mindful of the additional pressures imposed by the pandemic on the protection of site staff from exposure to COVID-19.
The UK Government has issued construction-specific guidance which outline the following additional measures that should be implemented on site:
• One-way flow-through areas, with floor markings to maintain social distancing (where possible).
• Minimising the number of unnecessary visits to the worksite. Where site visits are required, making sure customers, visitors and contractors understand how to maintain safety.
• Further increase the frequency of hand washing and surface cleaning.
• Avoiding surface transmission when goods enter and leave site.
• Refrain from playing radios etc. to reduce the risk of aerosol transmissions by shouting.
• Results of all risk assessments to be shared.
• Where site staff either have symptoms or live with others who have symptoms, ensure that they stay at home and are tested under the Government’s test and trace service.
CGJ have implemented further steps to ensure that we can make the wellbeing of our employees and customers a priority:
• We will continue to follow the government’s advice on this in the coming weeks and months.
• Our site engineering staff and visitors have been instructed to follow government guidance on social distancing and observing the two-metre rule. We have taken additional precautions with site hygiene.
• All meetings are being held online wherever possible to eradicate non-essential contact.
We will be following these measures for the immediate future, pending further guidance from the government and the relevant health authorities.
Whilst damage to the economy is inevitable, it will be a long time before the true effect of COVID-19 is known. The test on our society and infrastructure has found us to be better prepared for the onset of the pandemic than we probably first thought, considering the effect of the pandemics of 100 years ago. Whilst we would, I’m sure, all like to return to a semblance of “normality” as soon as possible, the one positive realisation that has come out of this crisis is to make us reconsider our previous way of life, as well as understanding our reliance upon the emergency services, who are all too easily forgotten when we feel that they are not needed.
As most of us have had to spend time with our families, or actively embarking on other pursuits which we may have neglected previously, it will be interesting to see if we come out of the crisis with a different work and life ethic to the one that we knew at the end of 2019.