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.
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.
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From 4th to 8th November 2019, Le Mondial du Bâtiment returns to Paris-Nord Villepinte with INTERCLIMA, IDÉOBAIN and BATIMAT coming together as the leading international event for the architecture, building and construction industries. It is a one stop shop for all industry players to get a 360º view on the newest products in the sector and help them rise up to the challenges of today and tomorrow.
BATIMAT will occupy four halls. In Hall 4, Interior and Outdoor fittings will take centre stage, while Hall 5A will host the Workshop Machinery and Joinery/Closures sectors. Hall 5B will be home to Tools, Site Equipment and – for the first time – commercial vehicles, including outdoor areas for demonstrations. Set up right between Halls 5A and 6, the new Construction Tech® sector will present digital solutions for buildings and will host the largest gathering of sector-specific start-ups. Finally, in Hall 6 visitors will find the “Building Structure and Envelope solutions” area together with all the sector’s main trade organisations. For the first time in France, BATIMAT has given the popular Offsite area its own dedicated sector.
BATIMAT more than ever is the place to be for industry professionals, offering a wide range of activities to help them prepare today to face the major challenges of tomorrow. With exhibition spaces and talk tracks entirely focused on what’s hot in construction, trade visitors to BATIMAT will find everything they need to make sense of developments in the building sector. With over 1,000 exhibitors registered, coming from every sector of the industry, the show will bring together all the major players.
Featuring alongside the exhibitors’ presentations and the show regulars, there will be a number of unmissable features at this year’s event:
1. City of tomorrow
The city of tomorrow is being built today. At the interface between buildings and mobility, the city is evolving and changing, and technological and technical breakthroughs have brought about new interactions which directly impact construction. The industry needs to reinvent itself, and BATIMAT offers visitors the innovative solutions required to make this happen.
2. Understand the expectations of new residents
Users and residents want better lives, and to play a part in the design of their homes. With one special day devoted to the topic, BATIMAT will question players from the Architecture and Construction sectors about this new trend – Wednesday 6 November.
3. Inventing new homes
Housing is reinventing itself and adapting to new forms of use. Primarily a place for us to live, the home is also becoming a place of work. It’s a functional space which evolves over the years to accommodate lifestyle changes. BATIMAT shines the spotlight on these new homes to better understand them.
“Smart living and smart working”: a full half-day track with the SBA (Forum Hall 6) – Wednesday 6 November:
4. Deciphering the future of construction
Connectivity and new technologies increasingly are core to forms of use. BATIMAT highlights the different technologies (voice, AI, 3D, etc.) which are changing the world of construction and how homes are used. In partnership with Gimélec (the federation of electro-digital companies), BATIMAT launched a major initiative to help professionals with digital transformation and industrialisation. The new area, CONSTRUCTION TECH® has the largest and most comprehensive range of building digitalisation solutions.
5. Wood, material for every challenge
Widely used in construction, wood naturally features strongly at BATIMAT. More generally however the sector is also increasingly promoting renewable and no-waste solutions.
6. Proven renovation and decarbonisation solutions
Reducing the carbon footprint of buildings during both their construction and use is a major environmental challenge for the sector. During the 5-day event BATIMAT will be presenting existing solutions, both with the products and solutions of our exhibitors and through a plethora of highlights.
7. Intelligent energy-production in the commercial sector
Optimising, storing and sharing energy and services are key energy transition concepts. BATIMAT revisits all the solutions for improving energy efficiency, offering financial savings and enabling responsible consumption.
8. Discover MMC: the concept revolutionising the building industry
BATIMAT 2019 sees the launch of a 1,000 m2 space devoted to Off-Site construction and events relating to this new building method. It will also go even further by touching on topical issues such as the ELAN act, BIM technologies and 3D construction.
9. Experience the building site of the future
Visitors to BATIMAT can try out COBATY’s new site digitalisation solutions at the Building Site of the Future space in Hall 6:
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