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The Impact of COVID-19 on Construction

We may find it difficult to focus on work and business during such an uncertain and stressful time, yet we must. We must because if we don’t, then the economic crisis could quite possibly become as bad as the health crisis is right now. We have to adapt and find solutions to keep our lives, and our businesses, moving forwards digitally whilst we follow Government advice and stay at home to stop the spread.

Over the past few weeks, we have seen the coronavirus accelerate at a rapid pace, and I think by now it’s no secret that alongside other major industries like hospitality and travel, the construction sector could sustain huge ramifications from this pandemic.

Only a week ago, it was the priority to keep critical construction projects open and ongoing, however, the way they operate is slowly changing, rightfully so, in light of the requirement of social distancing measures in place. It’s nearly impossible for workers on sites to maintain a 2-meter distance from one another, and the safety of people is critical.

These restrictions are affecting every aspect of the industry, however, it’s much more challenging for on-site workers and those working inside manufacturing facilities. We are seeing many companies now choosing to shut down sites for the foreseeable future to keep their employees safe, as even if they’re able to maintain social distancing on-site, the majority of workers take public transport into work, therefore potentially putting themselves and their families at risk.

This is a choice that many companies are choosing to make at the moment, but it’s a possibility that it may become necessary as the government continues to assess the ongoing situation and place restrictions on travel. Although the formal government position is that construction sites should remain open, as reiterated over the weekend by Alok Sharma MP in his open letter to the industry, with an update on the official guidance for what work is essential coming soon once finalised by the Construction Leadership Council (CLC).

People around the world are concerned about losing their jobs, and many people have already been laid off. The future of some businesses will be put into question as we struggle to react to a situation that none of us were prepared for. Contractors are under an especially stressful time, as they worry over their contractual positions with their clients.

Keep in mind that the CLC recommends that sites should stay open and act in accordance with Public Health England instructions and procedures, which you can find here.

Staggering entry and exit into sites and ensuring that workers are taking every additional safety measure, including social distancing on-site can help to keep it under relative control at the moment.

However, that being said, major firms are seeing their workers’ numbers drop by around 10% on sites due to the virus sweeping the nation. This is also impacted by the supply chain taking similar measures to close some of their operations.

There will be more pressure on the construction industry to come as this pandemic continues, with a possibility of projects being shut down unless they’re deemed essential.

So how can we keep business going in a time of so much unrest?

Where we can adapt, we must.

Whatever we can do during this time to work from home and move our production digitally until we can resume normal works is essential. And where we cannot, we need to find methods to maintain and increase the safety for our workers while remaining open for business, adhering to the guidelines put in place by CLC and Public Health England.


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