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COVID-19 : Guidance for construction site reopening

Risk & Analytics
COVID 19 Coronavirus

By Jason Baston | April 21, 2020

This article provides guidance to support effective re-mobilisation of construction sites following lockdown measures imposed as a result of COVID-19.

The unscheduled closures of construction sites worldwide due to COVID-19 presented many new challenges, even for those familiar with seasonal closures.

Once site owners are confident they can safely reopen and operate their site in accordance with the UK Government restrictions, a robust risk identification and risk management process will be crucial to any site reopening strategy.

This guidance has been developed to support effective re-mobilisation of construction sites and aims to provide a checklist of selected risk management considerations. Since construction sites and their risk profiles differ, this guidance is not intended to be exhaustive.

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People considerations
  • Manage social distancing – particularly in communal areas, exit and entry points and congested areas.
  • Consider a phased return for key trades and staff. Try to identify key absences, isolations or bereavements.
  • Look at illness management – for any recorded cases and/or symptoms, think about screening or decontamination.
  • Consider permitted site numbers and any need to be capped and/or counted.
  • Ensure a continued sanitation policy and availability of hygiene facilities to site workers.
  • Consider a fresh induction for COVID-19 changes. Also think about revisions to daily briefings and site notices.
  • Consider risk assessment re-briefing for COSHH (The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health), risk and method statements.
  • Ensure updates to policy are actioned e.g. first aid and site procedures where symptoms are present.
  • Consider employee wellbeing and mental health e.g. anxiety associated with site working.
  • Ensure no one starts work until their immediate work area is properly set up for the tasks they will be performing.
  • Consider staggered start times for employees to help manage social distancing on public transport or where possible allow staff to drive into work by providing additional car parking.

Manage social distancing - particularly in communal areas, exit and entry points and congested areas.

Site walk and equipment inspection
  • Conduct a plant and stock inventory.
  • Check adequacy and compliance of first aid and emergency kit provision.
  • Report any thefts or potential incidents to insurers e.g. escape of water or ingress.
  • Check for any damaged security measures that will need to be rectified e.g. perimeter fencing.
  • Consider actions required for moisture control in enclosed spaces e.g. mould.
  • Check for any additional scaffold or equipment needed to ensure a safe working environment.
  • Ensure all access, egress, walkways and working areas are clear, free of damage and safe to use.
  • Are groundworks and excavations stable, undamaged and safe?
  • Consider the start-up and testing of cranes, plant and equipment.
  • Return any off-hire equipment to hirer.
  • Promptly report any material changes in risk to your insurer.
Systems checks
  • Plan to safely re-pressurise and test depressurised systems.
  • Conduct alarm system tests such as fire and security.
  • Are any fire extinguisher or statutory inspection tests required or overdue?
  • Do any electrical installations require inspection?
Contractors / sub-contractors and service providers checks
  • Are any of these organisations in or at risk of administration that require an alternative solution?
  • Assess the ability of all parties to recommence works on site when instructed.
  • Are key services and suppliers able to recommence work when instructed e.g. cleaners, catering, waste collection, cement deliveries?
  • Are all key supplies still stocked or accessible to purchase in advance? e.g. personal protective equipment

Are all key supplies still stocked or accessible to purchase in advance? e.g. PPE

Legal review
  • Review contractual implications of delays and provisions for reopening.
  • Consult all contracting parties to achieve agreement.
  • Consider implications of any changes to legislation.
Long-term considerations
  • Consider business continuity plan revision.
  • Are there any risk register updates to make?
  • Consider cash flow management options to aid liquidity of the supply chain.
  • Review whether any warranties have been impacted.
  • Consider if delays can be mitigated to avoid impact on the practical completion date.

Further information sources can be found below:

UK Specific:
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/social-distancing-in-the-workplace-during-coronavirus-covid-19-sector-guidance#construction

https://builduk.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Site-Operating-Procedures.pdf

https://builduk.org/coronavirus/

Global:
https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public

An example of the process of a construction site reopening can be found below.

Reopening Process Timeline


  1. 01

    Intention

    • Responsibility: Identify key RACI roles
    • Engage: Notify stakeholders of intent
    • Legal: Review contract provisions for reopening
    • Project plan: Review critical success factors
    • Communicate: Communicate timelines, plans, procedures
  2. 02

    Assessment

    • Legal: Review legislation changes and impact
    • People: Maximise health, safety and wellbeing
    • Supply chain: Assess availability and capacity
    • Site walks: Conduct review and safety checks
    • Induction and training: Revisit, revise and reinduct
    • Emergency arrangements: Revisit and revise
  3. 03

    Implemention

    • Systems: Retesting and recommissioning
    • Statutory Inspections: Conduct as necessary
    • Monitor: Actively review and adapt accordingly
    • Supervision: Ensure continued competency of roles
    • Risk Register: Review records and update
    • Business Continuity: Update plans
  4. 04

    Future

    • Costs: Assess impact and mitigation measures
    • Cash flow: Identify options to manage liquidity
    • Warranties: Impact and remediation
    • Recovery of delay: Future recovery plans
    • Feedback: Learning cycle and avoid repeated occurance

For more information, please contact Jason Baston.

Each applicable policy of insurance must be reviewed to determine the extent, if any, of coverage for COVID-19. Coverage may vary depending on the jurisdiction and circumstances. For global client programs it is critical to consider all local operations and how policies may or may not include COVID-19 coverage.

The information contained herein is not intended to constitute legal or other professional advice and should not be relied upon in lieu of consultation with your own legal and/or other professional advisors. Some of the information in this publication may be compiled by third party sources we consider to be reliable, however we do not guarantee and are not responsible for the accuracy of such information. We assume no duty in contract, tort, or otherwise in connection with this publication and expressly disclaim, to the fullest extent permitted by law, any liability in connection with this publication. Willis Towers Watson offers insurance-related services through its appropriately licensed entities in each jurisdiction in which it operates.

The information given in this publication is believed to be accurate at the date of publication shown at the top of this document. This information may have subsequently changed or have been superseded, and should not be relied upon to be accurate or suitable after this date.

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Account Director
UK Construction Practice