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Will COVID-19 Affect Construction? – 9 Things To Consider
We are exposed to so many updates on COVID-19 and how it is affecting our everyday lives and businesses. Here at Livecosts, we are experiencing massive change in a very short period of time also. But one thing that is common in the businesses that we have been speaking with in the last week is that there is a positive resilience to adapt to these changes.
Construction in its very nature is familiar with disaster planning and change. Here are some of the positive steps that can be taken on sites during this uncertain time.
Be proactive, not reactive.
With acceptance of the situation and some planning, we can try to and limit these temporary effects.
Get the right information
Magic cures. Government plots. Despite efforts by social media companies to stop it, false information about the coronavirus is circulating around the world. To keep information accurate, regularly update yourself from the reliable sources below.
- The Department of Health is leading the government response in Ireland to COVID-19 and are providing up to date information and advice on it’s website at https://www.gov.ie/en/organisation/department-of-health
- Additional resources for information and advice include:Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) at www.hpsc.ie
The HPSC provide advice for the general public and for specific groups and settings including employers, healthcare professionals, education settings and religious settings.Health Service Executive at www.hse.ie
- Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade provide travel advice at https://www.dfa.ie/
- World Health Organisation at https://www.who.int/Centre for Disease Control at https://www.cdc.gov/
Form an on-site strategy
- Staggered Lunch Breaks.
- Extra disposable gloves / masks.
- Encouraging breaks in vehicles.
- Roster for regular canteen cleaning / sanitation.
- Displaying Public Notice Posters.
- Personal Sanitiser for each employee.
- Clear strategy for sick days.
- Smaller number of attendees at meetings.
- Online meetings.
- Tool box talks on video.
Just a few of the many things we can introduce on our sites to reduce risk.
Plan for labour shortages
Construction is no stranger to labour shortage, and the industry should prepare for potential temporary labour shortages as communities are impacted by the virus itself, and if global trends are any indicator, by community shutdowns and restrictions on travel. If your typical operation works on a skeleton crew, plan now for how you will provide replacement man-power and consider providing extra coverage in anticipation for those who may call-in sick. Consider whether any work can be performed offsite, such as certain fabrications, if job-site performance becomes restricted.
Understand your numbers
With loss of time close to inevitable, it is a time to understand how these overruns are affecting the projected budget. Measure these overruns carefully to establish how this will affect the long term.
Supply Chain Interruptions
Anticipate delivery interruptions and do what you can to prevent major impacts on your schedule. If you provide a significant amount of materials to a project, think about how you can overcome a possible lack of materials or an interruption in delivery of such materials. Do you have surplus materials in storage for easy access; and if not, is it possible financially and logistically to create such a surplus, now, that will carry your business through the coming months?
Review your contracts
Review all current contracts to understand your obligations. Check for ‘force majure’, act of God’ and ‘extension of time’ clauses to understand where the responsibilities for costs associated with delays beyond your control
Keep stakeholders notified
Review all notice procedures in your contracts and the time requirements for the same. If you think that material deliveries may be late and may impact your performance, notify the proper parties via the proper procedures. Make it clear in this notice why the disruption in delivery has occurred. Reassure all parties that you intend to follow through on your scope of work so that there are no possible retaliatory claims against you for anticipatory breach. Proactively seek time extensions if you anticipate delays.
Monitor your Project Locations
Set up a monitoring system to keep track of COVID-19 outbreaks in your project areas and closely watch any associated supply chain disruptions, labour impacts, or governmental actions such as quarantines or travel restrictions
More information resources
- The Health & Safety Executive (HSE): www2.hse.ie/conditions/coronavirus/coronavirus.html
- Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC): www.hpsc.ie The HPSC provides advice for the general public and for specific groups and settings, including employers, healthcare professionals, education settings and religious settings
- Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation provides a checklist of preparatory actions in responding to COVID-19 at www.dbei.gov.ie/en
- The Health and Safety Authority: www.hsa.ie