Episode 34 – Shane Dempsey
What Does Level 3, 4 or 5 Restrictions Mean For An Irish Construction Company?
Shane Dempsey is the Director of Communications for the Construction Industry Federation in Ireland. Since 2006, Shane has provided corporate communications and government relations expertise to Ireland’s leading indigenous and international companies. Shane specialises in working in trade organisations in creating industry positions and successfully delivers communications and public affairs strategies that benefit member organisations.
What did last week’s change from level 2 to 3 restrictions mean for Irish construction projects?
Ciaran – “I suppose, let’s try and break this down. The majority of Ireland went from two to three restrictions. What changes does that make, if any, to projects?
Shane – “None, as far as we’re concerned. So projects that remain open and people can travel to work, because you’re allowed to move counties and travel from Dublin to Cork or Limerick or whatever it is to, to work, right? What it does do is it puts a lot of pressure on those people who are working on projects that are on to really follow the SOP. So party political broadcast, guys, the more you adhere to that, the bigger the impact on the community in terms of safety, but the more likely we are to not have to move into lockdown, level four. Not only are you now kind of working to keep your own livelihood going. We’re such a big industry that we could demographically impact whether we go to level four, or epidemiologically go into level four. So, there’s an added onus on you, sorry, to really adhere to that SOP for the sake of your industry, etc., etc.”
Shane – “There’s no material difference, apart from the moral requirements and economic requirements, to really do things. And if that means slowing down a bit and social distancing and dealing with that logistical… Do it. And tell the guys not to be grouping together at lunchtime outside Spar and traveling in together without the proper social distancing within the vehicles and all that. All of that stuff now has to be totally refocused on. That’s the only kind of change, that it becomes even more important so we don’t go to level four because currently that equates to a shutdown.”
What can construction companies do to prepare for possible government level 4 or 5 restrictions?
Ciaran – “So I suppose, what… If we can try and get as practical as we can and look at this. So if I’m a business owner, what could I do to prepare for these four or six, or even as we say a full lockdown?”
Shane – “It’s a tough one to prepare for. In any influence you might have at a local level in terms of the political system. If you reflected the message that we need clarity, we need certain dates, et cetera, et cetera, that will help and it’s worth the effort in terms of keeping the industry open. The preparation, again, the key thing that Joe Schmidt control the controllables kind of thing is, make sure that now as we speak, that you’re at level three, your employees are adherent to the SOP to the Nth degree, right? We’ve been saying to our members in any meetings over the last while that it’s now gone beyond just you’re a business, and you have employees or sub-contractors. Make sure they behave on-site or adhere to the SOP. We’re saying you as influencers of your employees and subcontractors need to get a message to them. That when they leave the site and they go home into the community, they still have to adhere to the guidelines, to the HSE guidelines.”
Shane – “Because whatever now is shut down and we get too many clusters or too much of an incident? You can see what will happen to health. People will say the construction industry can’t operate safely. And that’s even more likely as other sectors shut down, and the community thing spreads, it’s more likely that guys are going to come in. So nobody wants to be preached, and are telling employees how to behave after we’re gone, we have to do everything we can. The benefit is that you’re actually… If you are getting through to employees about how they operate at home, how they adhere to the social distancing outside work? You’re benefiting your business and their communities, et cetera. So it’s just in exceptional times, you have to take exceptional steps.”