Everything changed on March 23rd, not just for Blue Jelly but for every business in the UK when the UK went into ‘lockdown’ to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Following the announcement, strict government guidelines on what businesses could remain operational and those that would need to close for the forseeable future were issued. Construction sites were still allowed to operate albeit with measures in place to protect the people working on the sites. Blue Jelly initially closed down our sites in order to fully assess the guidelines issued by the government and work with our suppliers and sub-contractors on a robust system which would see our sites active and our people on them safe. Their health was our main priority and we kept them safe in a variety of ways.
We caught up with our Commercial Director, Kevin Ward, who provided insight into the measures we are currently working to and what this may mean for our Design and Build projects over the next 12-18 months. Here’s what he had to say.
‘When the first case of Coronavirus appeared on our shores in February it was in our best interests to keep an eye on the spread of the virus and come up with an internal plan of what to do should a full lockdown be enforced similar to Spain, Italy, Germany and China. Before the lockdown was imposed, we had already started implementing measures to make our sites as safe as possible for our sub-contractors and site managers. Health checks for everyone entering the site became mandatory with strict protocols for anyone who presented with COVID-19 symptoms to be sent home immediately or refused entry to site. We only let people onto site who needed to be there, meaning all client site visits were put on hold to reduce the number of people on site. Hygiene was of the utmost importance with more hand sanitiser and signs to encourage people to wash their hands as often as possible.
When the lockdown was announced we looked through the government guidance on construction sites and worked with our major suppliers and sub-contractors to put measures in place to protect people working on the site. Once everything was agreed, we felt we could safely operate a site with the following measures on top of our usual H&S standards.
- Daily Covid-19 questionnaire and temperature check for all site personnel
- Only allow single trades onsite (to start with)
- No lone working allowed
- Workforce to always remain within the Blue Jelly site boundary’s
- No unauthorised people allowed on site at any time including client
- Maintaining the Governments social distancing of 2m always
- Maintain social distancing within the welfare area
- The workforce must always bring in their own refreshments including drinks and should not share crockery, cutlery or milk at the tea point
- There will be a 48-hour period of no work between each trade being onsite
- Travelling to and from work on your own where possible should be done to reduce the risk of contamination
To ensure we could operate in the agreed way and still work to deliver a Positive Workplace for our clients we maintained as many of our original delivery dates. Meaning we had everything we needed to continue working and were not left waiting for deliveries, which would have delayed the completion date further.
We are now looking at restrictions being lifted slowly and patiently await what the next 12 months will look like for our industry. We have worked in accordance with the Government guidelines throughout the pandemic and going forward we predict this will have a major impact on how projects and sites are operated in the future. From increased time on site, to the design and layout of an office. We will also change how we run sites, expect more Zoom meetings and virtual walkarounds, along with temperature checks on staff entering the workplace and additional PPE that may need to be worn. It could also spark the end of the communal tea point, which would upset a lot of tradespeople, but also help to reduce the transmission rate.
Whilst we wait for clear guidance on how we should be working in a pre-vaccine world, one thing is for sure, the health of our people is paramount and nothing should come before that.’
Kevin is one of the founding directors here at Blue Jelly and has over 30 years experience in our industry.
During this period of transition, we are offering our services to help businesses rearrange their workplaces to protect their employees and adhere to Government guidelines to get back up and running with minimal disruption to the business have offices used again. You can contact us today for more information.