Construction was one of the few sectors allowed to continue operating when the first COVID lockdown was announced. But this presented a huge challenge for operating safely and minimising the risk for health and safety.
Once the industry had recovered from the initial shock of the country going into lockdown in March 2020, and there was a clearer idea of what the restrictions on site would be, work began implementing new health and safety measures and processes.
The industry operates within strict health and safety regulations, and mitigating risk is an important part of project management. So while this was an unprecedented high-risk situation, the construction sector was in many ways set up to deal with it.
That didn’t mean it wasn’t without its challenges. The nature construction means teams often have to work in close proximity, and there are minimum numbers that can be required to safely carry out specific tasks on site.
Then there is the order and sequence of work when access to the certain areas might be limited by the number of people that can use lifts.
“It was a big challenge, and I think the construction industry can be commended on how it responded to that challenge,” says Nick Payne, Head of CDM at Concert.
The restrictions and extra health and safety measures also impacted costs – extra PPE, hygiene and cleaning all have to be paid for out of budgets that may have been signed off before the pandemic.
However, because of the prolonged nature of the Covid crisis, the industry is already adapting – something which may be useful in the future.
So what are the medium and longer-term implications for the construction sector? In this episode of Concert’s Sound Check podcast, former journalist Stacey Meadwell talks to Nick about the industry’s response to working during Covid and what it means for safety and risk management moving forward.