he construction industry is in a rough spot at the moment. Between the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, and the challenges of a rapidly changing market, it hasn’t been the easiest time for business owners and workers to say the very least. Especially when it comes to risk, professionals in the sector now have a lot more on their minds. Experts are working hard to find solutions to minimise the amount of risk that workers and bosses have to work with, and combining the ongoing risk involved with a global pandemic has only made their work more difficult.
The pandemic’s main impact has been twofold. Workers must now be socially distanced onsite, and they must have adequate health controls in place to stop the spread of any infection. The social distancing has been the easier of these two to deal with, as bosses have been fairly capable of devising rotas and systems which avoid unnecessary contact between workers. Workers have also played their part very well, following the new plans put in place by experts and taking their own initiative to protect themselves. This usually involves more rigorous hygiene procedures, making sure that there is no chance of cross-contamination between home and work.
The development and implementation of new health controls has been just a little bit more difficult. Firstly, the pandemic caught many in the sector off guard, meaning that there were plans in place for all kinds of workplace incidents, but unfortunately not a global pandemic. Innovators have been developing all sorts of new sanitising gear to make sure the worksite remains as sterile as an active construction zone can be. This applies to the workers arriving from outside, tools being passed from hand to hand, and the surfaces themselves which still have a chance of being contaminated. As one of the few industries permitted to continue working throughout the lockdown, there’s a real pressure on the sector to prove itself as able to safely continue work. This has been a success for the most part, as the new regulations have seen a 41% fall in coronavirus breaches on sites since September.
Now, the onset of a global pandemic hasn’t meant that all the other risk factors on a worksite have just disappeared. The sector is still having to find new ways to minimise this risk, all the while dealing with the fallout of coronavirus.
Fire Safety is one of the most important of these risks to minimise and is always at the top of many site-owners’ list after the revelations that thousands of buildings remain without appropriate cladding, putting many more thousands of inhabitants at risk, as well as the workers who are being tasked with the renovations. What makes fire safety so incredibly imperative is the massive risk it poses is not only to the site or finished building, but to everyone involved, and the local area. The commitment to fire safety must go much further than just materials, as for any fire safety strategy to work, the people involved need to understand the strategy itself and their role in it. It’s only with the understanding and cooperation of people on the ground that any good fire safety strategy can successfully minimise risk.
On the absolute other end of the spectrum, flood prevention is another risk factor that is very pertinent. This is unfortunately due to the steadily rising sea levels and the impact that will have on cities in the UK which are coastal or on a river. Just to point out, that includes London, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Cardiff, and many others. Thankfully we haven’t yet been as affected as nations much closer to sea level like the Netherlands, but there’s no avoiding that our time will come. The main developments for construction in this area have been flood warning systems and related plans to minimise loss. Technology has allowed us to predict flooding patterns with much improved accuracy. This allows site bosses to see clearly which sites will be affected and need to make preparations. It’s then in the hands of staff on the ground to action the strategies, making sure there is no risk to workers, and minimal risk to assets.