Adapting to the ‘new normal’ in construction and what this means for contractors 19th May 2020 | IN CONSTRUCTION | BY SBID

Following the government’s relaxation of lockdown restrictions for construction workers, leading fit-out specialists and SBID Accredited practice Portview Fit-Out began re-opening sites in preparation for returning to business. Portview shares details of the strict new health and safety measures being rolled out to help them adapt to this ‘new normal’ in the construction industry, shedding some light on what this might mean for the contractors in practice.


Whilst for many industries throughout lockdown the blanket delegation of essential or non-essential work was clear, however the construction industry was somewhat left in limbo. Contractors were left to make the call themselves on whether they should continue operations and if so, how this could be done safely and in a regulatory compliant way.

From the moment we took the unprecedented decision to close our sites on 24 March, we have continued to support our clients with all technical aspects of our projects. During that time, we have also been busy preparing for our return to site, with a robust programme of new health and safety provisions. After much deliberation, planning and preparation throughout lockdown at all levels of the company, we took the careful decision on the 27 April to phase the opening of our sites from 11 May. We welcomed the Prime Minister’s announcement, which gave further impetus for an active return to work for the construction and manufacturing industry.

The new health and safety measures we are implementing include:

A New COVID-19 Site Operating Procedure

We have developed a comprehensive COVID-19 Site Operating Procedure, alongside several site and task specific risk assessments. This was a collective effort by our entire team, who forensically examined construction tasks to see how they can safely operate whist maintaining physical distancing. Currently, we are supplying the updated documents to our contractors and are providing them with assistance to safely facilitate remobilisation.

Travel & Accommodation

We have made provisions to safeguard our team while commuting to and from London as much as feasibly possible. These include issuing all site staff with travel advice, FFP3 face masks and hand sanitisers, and providing hire cars and rental accommodation that is within walking distance of site. England-based Site Managers will also be remobilised ahead of those based in Northern Ireland as a means of reducing travel. In addition to our own safety precautions, we have checked to ensure airlines are stepping up to their responsibilities and improving their operating procedures to ensure the safety of all passengers who board their planes.

Cloud-based Induction

To help aid contactless induction training, we have invested in an online system to pre-induct contractors with key information before they arrive on site. The system is live 24/7, so people can log in remotely at a time that suits them and on any device.

Changes to inductions can be made instantly, with inductees being notified of any updates via the app and given their own unique site access code once they have passed training. Features will also include medical alerts, text notifications and document sharing.

Physical Distancing Marshals & Temperature Checks

Our Physical Distancing Marshals will be responsible for escorting and signing contractors on and off site, as well as ensuring everyone wears the correct PPE and is at least 2 meters apart. Where this distancing is essential, it will be controlled in accordance with an approved Risk Assessment / Method Statement and Permit to Work. We will also be rolling out daily temperature checks of anyone entering our sites before they are granted access.

Sanitation Stations & One-Way Systems

We have invested in mobile sanitation stations for each site. Contractors will be required to regularly wash their hands for a minimum of twenty seconds (such as on entry and exit) and to sanitise work tools and workstations. Each site will then be thoroughly cleaned and new distancing measures such as signage, floor markings, one-way systems, welfare and PPE storage areas will also be installed.

Staggered Start, Finish and Lunch Times

Start, finish and lunch times will be staggered to help avoid congestion on site and maintain distancing. This will be managed by our own Physical Distancing Marshals, who are responsible for monitoring numbers and coordinating schedules.


We know getting back to work is not going to be easy. It will be a new way of working for us all and we won’t be back to normal for a long time. However, with careful planning we can adapt to ‘the new normal’ and in a paradoxical twist – physical distancing will help to bring us together again, eventually.

About the Author

Established in 1975, Portview is a fit-out specialist that works with the world’s leading brands in retail, hospitality, sport and business to create award-wining interiors.

If you’d like to become SBID Accredited, click here to find out more.