30 April 2020
Birmingham based firm, Zone Contractors are a civil engineering and construction company operating nationally with a workforce of 200 people. Operations manager Aidan Munnelly, outlines the challenges of supporting employee health and wellbeing in construction through the coronavirus outbreak.
Zone Contractors are subcontracted to supply specialist resource to a number of road and rail infrastructure projects for the Department of Transport. Our office based employees are now working from home.
However it is more difficult for on-site construction workers, and virus transmission between construction site workers remains a risk because of the nature of the work. Therefore, we have been thinking of ways to support social distancing guidelines.
Like at UK supermarkets, our staff are working on sites that are demarcated to keep everyone at least two metres apart, with on-site security staff enforcing the social distancing guidelines. Antibacterial hand gel are also widely available at almost every door, and staff must wear appropriate protective gear.
Through the crisis our sector is continuously introducing innovative ways to minimise risk. For example, at a Balfour Beatty project in Avonmouth, team briefings are now conducted outside with workers standing a safe distance from one another.
Seating has been replaced to ensure that no-one is sitting next to each other. And in some cases, seating has been taken out completely so that only one person may be sat at a table at any single point in time.
Sadly some of our projects have had to temporarily close so we have had to provide 24 hour security to prevent trespassers, and in some cases our staff have needed to be resident on the site to reduce any virus transmissions.
We have taken this opportunity to update our intranet with useful information on staff health, safety and mental wellbeing. We have started to build an app which will provide employees with useful health and wellbeing advice. We are also planning to include learning and development resources within the app.
There is no doubt that Covid-19 is impacting on business operations, however we have demonstrated our ability to adapt to new ways of working in these times of adversity. So far, and as a result of the precautions taken to date, we have been able to keep our workforce employed throughout.