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Getting “COVID-19 ready”

The construction industry will be among the first wave that will get to resume working in the Government’s 5 phase plan. Already, some priority healthcare, education and social housing projects are underway, classed as “essential”. What construction workers will be returning to is a very different environment. There is a wide variety of measures being prepared to make sites “COVID-19 ready”.

What it takes to stay open

The language and advice around these measures have been clear. If they are not followed by the industry as a whole, keeping sites open may become difficult. Fighting a pandemic requires every citizen to be as safe and responsible as possible. We can already see this in projects that have resumed. The position of COVID-19 Compliance Officer has emerged as the focal point in implementing CIF’s “COVID-19 Guide for Construction Sites”.

There is a long list of tasks, checks, guidelines and protocols that these officers will be either in charge of or working with others on. Actions like cleaning tools, rigorous cataloging of deliveries, comprehensive tracking of those on-site and much more will become the norm. Sites, where possible will be redesigned to emphasize one-way walkways, more visibility on correct social distancing procedures, rotas for canteens and more.

An essential role

This is only scraping the surface, with the CIF and other bodies having run numerous training sessions on the complete suite of actions and responsibilities of this COVID-19 Compliance Officer. We’ve already had many conversations with construction companies about this particular role. As a requirement to reopen sites, this may be the most essential role in all of construction right now. The growing role of EHS (Environment, Health, and Safety) before the shutdown will only become more and more important we get the economy moving again.

Beyond construction

The aforementioned amount of responsibility that is entailed in the COVID-19 Compliance Officer undoubtedly lends itself to being a standalone position. When the rest of the economy opens up, other sectors may look to the standards set by the construction industry. Compliance Officers would also make a lot of sense for everyday retail and office work as well. A combination of proper preparation and constant monitoring seems necessary to ensure we are doing our due diligence in preventing the spread of COVID.

When we think about things such as compliance tracking, staggered start times, ensuring proper social distancing – these things require some level of expertise to implement. As such, a role similar to the Compliance Officer described above might become close to a requirement to reopen any business.

Talk to Stephen Hoban, our Associate Director of Construction, Property & Engineering about sourcing EHS, COVID-19 Compliance Officers, and more.

shoban@azon.ie | T: +353 16 909 724 | M: +353 87 700 7748


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