Wednesday, 8 April 2020

A World Gone Mad?

There is no wrong answer to this question - which comes first Business or Britain? (Sorry to Northern Ireland you are included but Britain sounded better in this instance!).

Over the past few weeks I have seen numerous posts showing companies doing all they can to maintain their business activities but with a difference. Adjusting their SOP's (Site Operating Procedures) to include Hand Sanitisers at all entrances, 2m personal working zones, scaling down operations where possible but maintaining a workable site, offset shift patterns....these are all laudable activities and fit nicely into the Government advice that the construction sector should continue where possible...of course there is an underlying moral issue of whilst we could you have to ask if we should.

Amending SOP's is great within that site bubble, but companies do also need to consider the wider picture, of which I have seen scant little of.

Bigger picture

Whilst a site might be isolated, and social distancing can be easily achieved, there is more to consider:-

1.  The site might be isolated but the journey to and from won't be. On that journey they might (for example) breakdown, need fuel, or have an accident. Automatically isolation has gone and social distancing is more of a concern.

     1a: If they breakdown someone has to go and recover them - so it's not just one person taking a risk now it is a second, and all the people that person interacts with.

     1b: If they need fuel that means going to a busier location, and touching metal surfaces which are likely to be have been touched by hundreds/thousands of people over the past few weeks. Yet another point of risk.

1c: God forbid they have an accident but that is likely to involve recovery, police and an ambulance. You can see this snowballing already...

2.  Once you're at site it is virtually impossible to spend the day not touching anything, and who knows whom might have contact with any of the surfaces in the past few days/weeks. Yes, a construction site is generally enclosed but as Surveyors we often arrive before the construction site to land open to the public. Whilst protection can be provided it will have its limitations, and will rely on everyone doing their bit. However, we are there, on a remote isolated site. What could possibly go wrong?   -Well,  our risk assessment does include death & broken limbs, so worst case scenario that happens and you have to call in help - putting more people at risk, and adding to the burden of the NHS, would you want to make that choice? Treat those who have fallen ill through no fault of their own or the worker who went to site and has an accident?

3. Your site has been very prudent in the hand washing and sanitising, then I go onto to site with all my equipment.....In error that hasn't been sanitised since my last job because upon getting home I had to go straight out for the weekly shop, and drop a prescription off for an elderly neighbour! Someone moves the survey pole to a safer location, or carries some of the kit...….infection is spreading!

4.  Survey complete - see point 1 on the return home!

5.   Do you self isolate for the a fortnight now, or will you have to go out shopping at some point, or collect a prescription?

It isn't just Surveyors doing this, I have seen ads for Architects suggesting now is the time to build the swimming pool or outside office you have always wanted and are now in need of....  How exactly is this essential and do they not know that to achieve these ideas numerous people will have to visit the properties to map, design, approve, and build?!  A hashtag doing the rounds seems like a pretty good one in these circumstances #covidiots.

There is a clear duty of care, and 90% of our clients have accepted our decision and are willing to wait. R L Surveys are no longer undertaking site works - any existing jobs which have been postponed will be given priority once lockdown protocols are eased or rescinded, all other jobs are being ask to take a number and will be completed in the order instructions are received (13 and counting!!). At least our staff have the piece of mind that once we are through to the other side (what ever it may look like) the work will be there...and to be honest they are going to need to be well rested given the amount of work we have ready to start!

If your company are promoting your safe working systems - highlighting that your staff have all started to work from home - please respect & SUPPORT those people who work on site, and don't ask us to do something your own company is not willing to ask you to do - take the risk.

#StaySafe #Protectthenhs #Savelives

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