Health & Safety Construction Changes since COVID-19

“Oh, Sh#$, My Mask!” – Normal Person on the Daily.

I know we don’t all particularly like change, but times have changed and we, therefore, need to embrace change as well and conform to the new norm and try to remember to wear a mask and sanitize all the time.

The health and safety within the construction industry is challenging at the moment as everyone has to try to adapt to the new way of working.

To reduce the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, plans need to be in place to help identify risk levels in the workplace. They also need to determine the implementation of control measures.

Owners of companies as well as their staff need to remain in the know and up to date with the changing Covid-19 outbreak conditions as they directly affect and relate to community spread of the virus.

This blog is on “Changes since COVID-19” within the Construction industry. I’d like to focus on the construction site itself.

As a Health & Safety officer onsite or the main contractor, you will need to assess the hazards to which your workers may be exposed. You also need to then evaluate the risk of exposure and ensure workers adhere to rules in place to prevent exposure.

Conducting a job hazard analysis can also help you determine whether work activities require close contact (within 2 meters) between staff, visitors, customers or members of the public.

There is so much information on this particular topic, however, below are some points which I believe most stood out to me:

1. Personal Protective Equipment
  • To be honest, most construction workers are unlikely to need more PPE beyond what they already use. What I mean is that the PPE that they should already have to have is a hard hat, gloves, safety glasses, and a face mask. Since Covid-19, the PPE required may now include eye protection, gloves, and/or face shields.
2. Transportation
  • Washing your hands before and after using public transport. Also washing your hands and sanitizing as soon as you get home. All persons should ensure that their hands are sanitized before and after, entering and existing any vehicle.
  • The use of individual transport is much preferred during this crisis. Where possible, workers should use their cars and drive alone rather than collective or make use of public transport. The employer can facilitate this and assist by ensuring there is a car park or open site available to all employees. If you think about it, even a rack for securely storing bicycles would also help. Heck if you live close enough and are fit do to so, then walk to work.
  • The contractor or health & safety consultant should note and assess the number of workers being transported. A log should be kept and the consultant can also implement measures to ensure that social distancing between persons is adhered to.
  • Work buses or work transport should have space where people can sit apart from each other (adhering to social distancing) and the vehicle should be well-ventilated. Masks are to be worn in both public transport & employer transport/buses.
  • Visitors to the construction site should be discouraged to visit. Should there be a delivery of any sort, drivers should try to remain in their vehicles while being screened and provided with hand sanitizer. When goods are being delivered, it is suggested to do so through pick-up or delivery outside of the construction site. It’s not often, but delivery workers could also be allowed to use facilities such as toilets and cafeterias onsite, and these should be sanitized and cleaned thoroughly at all times.
  • Transportation of staff:
    • Vehicles being used to transport workers or being used on site are to be thoroughly disinfected each time before and after boarding
    • Each person onsite is to be screened and have their temperature taken twice daily. A log of the everyone’s details, temperatures, times and dates as well as those of visitors to the site will need to be kept.
    • Stickers or markings on the ground should be placed around the site to ensure social distancing.
    • Wearing of masks is mandatory
    • The appointed Covid19 officer on site would need to monitor staff as they disembark from any transport vehicle to make sure social distancing and sanitizing are done.

3. Site access & workspace

Contractors have specific responsibilities for health and safety and must coordinate all activities of workers & sub-contractors. They are responsible for ensuring the health and safety of everyone and would do so by implementing policies and procedures as well as providing workers with instructions, training and supervision.

It is recommended that a Covid-19 safety co-ordinator or officer be appointed at each site and that everyone is familiar with that person. This officer will ensure compliance with Covid19 regulations and safeguard against infection as well as be able to provide answers to any questions persons may have.

  • Covid-19 compliance procedures are to be included in the contractors existing safety manuals onsite.
  • Site safety manuals should highlight where Covid19 safety procedures are difficult to adhere to, depending on the nature of work. (eg: shared fall protection ropes, tools and equipment that could be potential transmission points)
  • Covid19 signage and posters in all languages necessary should be installed onsite. Especially in high traffic areas such as entries, exits, hallways, meeting points, material docks, canteens and changing rooms.
  • Adopt staggered work schedules – alternating workdays or extra shifts, to reduce the total number of employees on a job site at any given time and to ensure physical distancing.
  • Ensure clean toilet and handwashing facilities. Clean and disinfect portable site toilets regularly. Fill hand sanitizer dispensers regularly. Disinfect frequently touched items such as door handles, soap dispensers, taps and toilet seats.
4. Lunchrooms / Eating Area
  • Stagger lunch hours to reduce the number of staff in the breakroom at one time.
  • Food should be consumed at designated areas only. When you are eating, your mask is off and the risk of infection may be greater. Social and safe distancing still applies.
  • As said before, signage should be in the lunch area creating Covid19 awareness or simply just reminding everyone to wash your hands and wear your mask. Remember this is sort of “new” to us, and its human nature to forget to wear your mask sometimes. 6 months of it and I’m still not 100% used to it, but we have to be. I appreciate the signs and reminders.
  • Seating arrangements now needs be modified to include social distancing.
  • Tables, chairs, microwaves, utensils and any other equipment or surfaces need to be disinfected before and after every use. Where possible, encourage staff to bring their cutlery and crockery and to keep this at their desk or in their locker.

5. Staircases
  • One-way walking on the staircase should be implemented. Basically, have people keep left at all times. This is to avoid social distancing being compromised.
  • The handrail needs to be regularly disinfected and should you use this you need to sanitise before and after use. Staff shouldn’t touch anything.

6. Site Offices
  • Again, Covid19 signage needs to be up at the site office as well as “Restricted Access” so that they know there is a limit to the number of people allowed in that area.
  • Sinks need to be installed with hand sanitizer available for staff and visitors
  • A checklist of commonly used items should be drawn up and those need to be wiped and clean periodically (such as doorknobs, chairs, desks, stationery). The construction safety officer is to ensure this is complied with.

7. Site Sanitation Measures
  • Provide hand sanitizers/handwash and sinks with clean running water.
  • Provide paper towels instead of hand towels. This you can throw away after use, instead of all using the same, dirty hand towel.
  • Provide foot-operated/foot pedal rubbish bins in all bathrooms and site offices.
  • Limit the number of persons allowed to make use of the toilet facilities at any one time. Have a visible sign with the maximum capacity allowed.
  • Toilet facilities and fixtures are to be disinfected by cleaning staff regularly.

8. Material Management

1. Unloading and loading zones should be clearly marked and also have limited access.

2. Any vehicle entering or exiting the premises is to be disinfected. Especially machinery or vehicles used by multiple persons.

3. Documents are to be reviewed and validated in digital formats where possible. If you can fill in contracts or documents online then do so. This is to avoid the physical exchange of paperwork and avoid the spread of the virus.

4. Any delivery that is unloaded should be disinfected before storage at the site.

9. Training & Awareness is to be provided to all employees on the following:

  • Signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and the need to report any safety and health concerns
  • All policies and procedures are to be followed
  • Hygiene and social distancing
  • Avoiding physical contact with others and maintaining a distance
  • Appropriate cleaning practice
  • The proper way to cover coughs and sneezes
  • Alternatives to shaking hands upon entry
  • Not touching your face, or anyone else’s
  • Decontamination, removal and disposal of any PPE being used
  • The importance and seriousness of staying at home if you are sick.
  • Wearing a mask, always
  • Any members who have been in isolation, quarantine or had been diagnosed with COVID-19 should be physically separated from any other members of the team. Be it in a different room or on a different part of the site. You can even use closed doors or walls as physical barriers to separate workers.
10. Reporting
  • A team which includes a safety officer could be put together to form a Covid19 response unit onsite. This team can then plan, co-ordinate and provide information to others. They would be involved in decision making and co-ordination with other companies and stakeholders.
  • Daily, weekly, fortnightly and monthly reports should now include Covid19 stats. This means Covid19 safety compliance as well as staff screening. The number of workers being screened, their locations and any workers suspected of symptoms.
  • Site safety procedures are to be updated and managed.
  • Documents, including training logs, should be kept and readily available.
  • A three strike policy could be implemented for those who are non-compliant. In the same breath, you can implement a rewards program for those who have done well and adhered to the rules.
  • Meetings. Keep in-person meetings as short as possible and limit the number of workers in attendance. Limit this to less than 15 minutes and use social distancing practices. No more than 50 persons gathered in the same area. If you have to, rather consider holding on-site meetings in open spaces or outside. Another alternative is having staff or team meetings online.

11. Engineering Controls

  • Plastic sheets can be used as barriers
  • Special attention needs to be given to those “High Risk” employees as well as those with family members who are at high risk.
12. Use of Technology
  • Thermal imaging scanners can be used for easy temperature screening of groups of staff.
  • Digital scanners (instead of biometrics) can be used for recording staff attendance.
  • Drones. I’ve even heard people go as far as to use drones to spray disinfectant on-site areas.
  • Spray booths or disinfectant walk-through booths are also used at the entrance to the site.
  • Occupancy of rooms or common areas can be displayed and viewed.
  • Covid19 mobile compliance app which includes chat-bots in multiple languages, are very helpful and should be introduced to employees.
  • A control centre should be set up where you can use remote camera technology to track those who arrive to and leave the site.

13. Mental health

We need to be aware that Covid19 not only affects our physical health, but our mental health as well.

  • We need to assist those who are suffering from anxiety or stress and support should be in place for those persons.
  • This is also a time of uncertainty and many will need advice, support or just someone to talk to.

Additional important points
  • Never mix any of the solutions or different types of disinfectants (e.g ammonia with bleach). Hazardous vapours will be released and can be very toxic.
  • As hand sanitizers result in dehydration, we need to moisturise hands regularly.
  • If any of the staff members develop skin rash or irritation after using disinfectants or the hand sanitizers, they are to inform occupational health practitioner/specialist immediately. They can then establish what the cause is and recommend another brand or type of sanitizer or disinfectant to be used.

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Sources
Osha
Oshwiki
CIDB
Hseni
Lexology
Ehs Today Construction
Ehs Today Webinar
Hsa
CDC
Ontario
SA Builder
KPMG
PBC Today


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About Michelle Hosford

I started my journey at Leads 2 Business in the Directory Department in 2012. I was then promoted to the Private Projects department in 2014 and have been working as the Regional Gauteng content researcher ever since.

OPINION: SA Construction Industry during COVID-19

posted in: General 0

An opinion piece on Construction in South Africa during Covid

26 March 2020, the day that everything changed. Hard lock-down. The entire country sequestered to their homes and not permitted to leave, it was called Lock-down Level 5. The ramifications of this decision will still be felt by everyone in all industries and walks of life for a long long time. We were entering the unknown, fearful of everything and everyone and if you listened to the various news broadcasters masquerading as prophets of doom and gloom, the world as we knew it had come to end, normal did not exist any more and life would never ever be the same again. I eventually made the conscious decision to change the TV channel from any and all news broadcasts and limited myself to one broadcast of news per day, this was for my own sanity as the bombarding of constant fear-mongering was powerfully eroding away at me. But this unknown scary time was going to be for 21 days, I would survive. Oh, how little did I know…..

But not all was doom and gloom, I was going to work remotely. I had subscribers that were depending on me to obtain information that was not readily available, they needed this information to assist in their business, they needed to keep their business going which in turn keeps our business going, it seems like an endless circle, but actually makes sense. Gosh, information was very scarce initially, no one knew what was happening (and if they did they did not want to say anything because who knew what tomorrow would bring…) Town planning and environmental notices (where we get a lot of our very new projects) “dried up” and no new notices were being posted, new tenders being published dwindled down to almost nothing, in fact, I noted that most of the tenders that were still going out were for various Eskom entities that needed repairs, Eskom’s procurement department was still hard at work. It was very slow going in the beginning, could not contact professionals, some were on leave, some did not have mobile numbers.

21 days came and went and lock-down continued. Come 1 May 2020 and the country moved down to level 4, this meant a slightly different set of rules, we still could not leave our homes unless it was an essential service, but we could exercise within a 5km radius of our homes between 6am and 9am. It was still dark at 6am and dangerous to leave your home but that didn’t worry me, I am not an exercise person anyway! But I digress, back to work….looks like some construction could start again, essential infrastructure projects and repairs but still the tenders had not really picked up as most of the municipalities remain closed, and they are the ones that put out the tenders according to their budgets…. Great excitement….we are moving to level 3 on 1 June 2020..hooray…many more sectors can open up and construction will definitely pick up now, slowly and surely tenders starting picking up and there was much speculation about all the field hospitals that were being planned (these projects were shrouded in secrecy and very little information was being released) but we persevered and were diligent in our research and managed to add 13 of these Covid 19 hospital projects to our database. Half of the office was still working remotely and the other half were coming to the office under strict hygiene and sanitising conditions. The joy of sitting at my desk, with the familiar all around me was soothing to the soul, maybe, just maybe things are going to be okay, no wait, I know they going to be okay, it might be different, it might be hard but it will be okay. I felt the construction industry was starting to look up and gain a little traction, majority of the projects in various sectors that were under construction when the lock-down was announced were prepping their sites and educating their staff on how to take precautions so that construction could recommence in earnest. Our L2Q department started getting new bills from contractors that required coding and pricing, there was a definite movement in the industry.

Level 2 was the next stage and that momentous day was 18 August 2020, 145 days since the National Lock-down was implemented. Additional industries have been permitted to start again and the number of tenders has increased, in all the different trades that we capture. Even though life might not be the same and the old normal has evolved into a new normal with a face mask and copious amount of sanitiser, there are signs of the Private Construction Sector is moving ahead and the larger privately funded projects are being awarded and construction is starting, new developments are being marketed and researching for updated information is moving at an increased pace.

We entered Level 1 on 21 September 2020 and there has been a substantial increase in public tenders as well as the progress and movement in privately funded projects.

Even though the effects on the construction industry and economy in the whole will likely have long term consequences Leads 2 Business will strive to continue sourcing viable and beneficial information for our subscribers as we did through the entire lock-down.


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About Debbie Wessels

Juggling a energetic, full of surprises life, working full time with two teenagers and hoping to still be sane and normal by the time I retire.

COVID-19: It’s not all bad….

posted in: General 1

I’m sure you think I have lost my mind but believe me, I am just as anxious to jump off this “coronacoaster” as the rest of you.

It’s no secret that this pandemic has been devastating to the whole globe, everyone has been affected in some way or another, whether it has been from the tragedy of a life lost, or if you have suffered financially during this time, perhaps you have been retrenched or have had your salary or hours slashed – we have ALL been affected.

Nothing is simple any longer.

If you are a smoker you are looking down the barrel of the illegal cigarette trade of which you have now become very familiar with and which is attached to an exorbitant rate for a single box just so you may have a drag with your morning coffee.

No longer can you on the “spur of the moment” make the decision that you would like a glass of chardonnay with your Saturday brunch…. unless of course, you remembered to stop and stand in a ridiculously long cue at your local bottle store on a Thursday before all liquor sales close until the following Monday!

Of course, not even this is possible now with the alcohol ban back in play…

Understandable our anxiety levels are off the charts, trying to keep our family safe, our companies afloat and of course to try and remember our masks every time we leave the house… I myself have had the pleasure of turning myself right around, right outside our local grocer several times now to head back home and retrieve a mask from my ever-growing collection.

But… it’s not all bad

And let me tell you why!

Mother Nature has just received a well-deserved break!!!

And it seems fitting that it was World Environment Day on the 5th June which was during out lockdown, this is a day we celebrate “her” and all that she does for us.

The worldwide lockdown has brought about significant reductions in emissions of smoke and waste due to oil consumption, not to mention a reduction in litter. This in its self has had a positive effect as we have recently seen wildlife roaming, trotting and swimming about freely 🙂

I hope that these pictures warm the cockles of your heart as they did mine and remind you that we are not alone on this earth, not everything is about us and life is still beautiful!

 

Amazing right!

Animals are not the only beneficiaries of this terrible pandemic, we have seen lockdown camps across the country; feeding, clothing and homing our most vulnerable, this has led to many social and economic issues being brought to the forefront like drug addiction which is now being dealt with, with mostly compassion and understanding. There have been countless private entities who have come together to collect and distribute food, clothes, blankets etc. and it’s lovely to see the humanity or as we like to refer to it as “Ubuntu” amongst our South Africans!

I’m not blind to the corruption that these social funds have unfortunately been subjected to, however, I still sleep a little better knowing our poor and homeless have been feed and have had a bed at night.

So while the world is striving to be COVID-19 Negative….. today I am feeling COVID-19 positive!

Keep well, stay safe and we WILL get through this together!

Sources:
Classic FM
The Federal
Explore
Wikipedia
Afro
T and F Online


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About Sherina Shawe

"You have to do everything you can, you have to work your hardest, and if you do, if you stay positive, you have a shot at a silver lining." from: Silver Linings Playbook.

Activation plans for the Construction Industry post COVID-19

At the end of April, the Construction COVID-19 Rapid Response Task Team (CC19RRTT) submitted proposal medium-term plans for the development and construction industry post-COVID-19.

Below is a synopsis of the proposal. The full proposal document is available below.

Short-term interventions include re-activation of construction sites and processes with a focus on health and safety measures to assist the safeguarding of construction workers and suppliers.

Medium and longer-term interventions are required to support the built environment and construction sectors to ensure contributions to economic recovery and growth.

The Public Infrastructure builds, together with private sector investment, plays a key role in creating employment opportunities in the sector and its regulation determines the successes or failures of the Built Environment sector.

The property development sector, both private and public, is responsible for fixed capital investment that addresses both social and market needs and, importantly, reflects medium-to-long term confidence in the future of the country.

Government contributes towards public infrastructure builds and regulates the sector through various entities, guidelines and provisions which play a key role in creating employment opportunities in the sector.

The Covid-19 situation happened at a time when the entire building industry was in a crisis, bringing focus and urgency to the need to review some of the regulatory framework and procurement environment for which Government is responsible.

More than two-thirds of any development process is currently being spent on obtaining statutory approvals, twice as long, if not longer than it takes to construct a typical development. Construction can only commence once statutory approvals are in place. If one were to support the construction industry, one cannot but address duplication of statutory processes and delays in the statutory approval phase of a project. Such delays also inhibit any national economic turnaround.

The submission is structured along with the following main themes:

  1. The need for the alignment and merging of all statutory approval processes into a single application process.

  2. The empowerment of qualified and registered design professionals to self-certify their work, or alternatively peer certification on a rotational basis.

  3. Restructuring of public procurement processes under the guidance of the quantity surveying, architectural and engineering professions who are responsible for procurement processes in the private sector daily noting the need to acknowledge the broad intent of the current PFMA & MFMA’s. The shortcomings of these policies in the procurement of professional services also should be acknowledged and reviewed.

  4. Establishing a supply chain environment which differentiates between the procurement of goods and procurement of professional services.

  5. Creating a regulatory framework which supports the industry to be sustainable rather than contribute to its collapse.

  6. Increase public-private partnerships for the provision of infrastructure projects.

  7. Facilitation of development finance to ensure that more projects get to the bankable feasibility stage.

The medium-term plan calls for a fundamental change in government and public engagement in order for more construction projects can take place, thereby delivering all the benefits that the construction industry can achieve as an economic multiplier in terms of creating employment ultimately resulting in the recovery and the future of the country.

The construction industry is paramount in achieving any future economic growth and the proposed plan will most certainly assist in its activation post-COVID-19.

The Full Proposal Document

cc19rrtt_medium_term_proposa

Source: ASAQS


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About Sasha Anderson

Millennial Mom + wife living the hash-tag life

Leads 2 Business: Lockdown Support

posted in: General 2

At Leads 2 Business we’ve got YOU covered, yes, even during the Lockdown. Our friendly staff can still be reached via phone, email or even LiveHelp.

We will still be working remotely and safely from our homes bringing you the latest, up-to-date information where ever you are working.

You can still access our website, view tenders and projects from your laptop, computer or even your mobile, so you won’t miss a thing.

The Daily Advisory email will still be going out every evening, directly to your inbox, so you don’t have to leave your house or even your couch!

 

“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” – Henry Ford


To view more Articles, please visit our Leads 2 Business Blog.
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About Sasha Anderson

Millennial Mom + wife living the hash-tag life