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Managing Construction Safety during a Pandemic

The management of safety in construction projects has come a long way in recent years, largely thanks to the ongoing evolution of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations, or CDM2015 as they have become more affectionally known. The regulations designate specific duties to the various duty holders. Generally speaking the Principal Designer takes responsibility for managing and coordinating health and safety in the pre-construction phase; the Principal Contractor then takes ownership during the construction phase; and the Client must ensure that the project is set up from start to finish in a way that mitigates risks to health and safety throughout – largely by ensuring the competency of the other duty holders appointed.

We at Malone Group specialise in delivering construction projects safely, predominantly within the FMCG industry, and have over 21 years’ experience as a company in doing so, priding ourselves on keeping our customers CDM compliant and more importantly, ensuring that everyone involved goes home to their families safely at the end of each day. This year, however, has brought about unprecedented challenge.

Ever since COVID-19 emerged as a threat to public health in early 2020, we have had to revaluate almost every aspect of project safety when appointed as one of the aforementioned duty holders, in order to ensure that everyone continues to go home safely and healthily.

As Principal Designer, we achieve this by integrating control measures in the design stage, aiming to minimise manpower required on site as much as possible and subsequently minimising the opportunity for the virus to spread. We also use technology to our advantage, whether it be through remote meetings or by conducting 3D scans of infrastructures that enable stakeholders to ‘walk the site’ without having to leave the comfort of their own home office.

As Principal Contractor, we then follow this through in the construction phase by ensuring COVID-19 management is an integral part of each contractors’ risk assessment process. We will co-ordinate all works to ensure social distancing is observed wherever possible, conduct core body temperature screening daily and ensure that the construction phase is undertaken from start to finish in line with the latest government and industry guidance to keep Client staff and all contractors healthy and safe. Our contact tracing systems also ensure that any outbreaks can be contained as quickly as possible, with any affected persons identified for testing at the earliest opportunity.

COVID-19 presents projects with a completely new challenge and it is essential that it is taken seriously and given the appropriate resources to control. That being said, it is equally important to ensure that this virus does not steal the limelight entirely…

Construction is by its very nature one of the most high-risk sectors when it comes to health and safety, often only surpassed by the agricultural sector when looking at annual HSE statistics. It is therefore imperative that we continue to simultaneously control the more familiar construction risks, whether it be work at height, exposure to silica dust, trip hazards, electricity – the list goes on and on!

Put simply, COVID-19 must now be considered as part of every risk assessment. We do not need to switch our focus from the other hazards on construction sites. We simply need to accept it and integrate it into our standard policies and procedures.

Please do not hesitate to contact our UK Regional Safety Manager, Dan Clapcott, should you have any queries surrounding CDM 2015 or project safety in general. We would love the opportunity to discuss how we can add value to your projects and relish building strong working relationships with customers that prioritize safety and give it the emphasis, time and resources it so rightly commands.

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