5 Safety Points for the Post-COVID Construction Site

With the construction sector focusing on safety as restrictions ease, it is increasingly important for construction stakeholders to create health and safety procedures for the job site and construction operations as a whole. While every construction project is unique, similar principles remain transferrable, whether you’re entering a job site, managing a fleet, or driving a truck.

From setting up simple on-site reminders to integrating your workflow with new technology, we have identified five safety points that are consistent with best practices for construction and moving heavy material.

Physical distancing

We know that coughing or sneezing can transmit coronavirus droplets up to eight meters. Droplets can also be released by talking, and the virus can remain active for many hours on surfaces such as counters, doorknobs, and tools. 

The term “physical distancing” has been ingrained into our vocabulary — and because asymptomatic individuals can still spread the virus, physical distancing remains critical. As an owner, contractor, or material producer, consider implementing a physical distancing protocol that includes: 

  • Hold meetings online or via conference call. If a live toolbox talk is needed, keep it short and with fewer than 10 people. If you have an existing stack of tech resources, see if they integrate with a virtual meeting platform.
  • Spreading out shifts, lunches, and breaks to reduce physical interactions. Offer alternate days of work or dedicated shifts to reduce the number of workers on a site at any time and allow non-essential personnel to work from home whenever possible.

Personal protective equipment (PPE)

Having the right PPE is a critical element of workplace safety especially with job hazards associated with construction activities. This becomes even more important when facing and subsequently emerging from a pandemic like COVID-19.

  • For most workers, gloves are mandatory. While face and eye protection are important, due to their limited availability, N95 respirators are not necessary except where appropriate. That said, recommended PPE supervisors may want to insist that heavy-duty work gloves are worn at all times on-site and advise workers to wash them at home for the next day.
  • Encourage masks, gaiters, and face shields or goggles when interacting with others. 

Adopt contactless tools and digital solutions 

Because the coronavirus may remain active in droplets for hours, physically handling  paperwork needs to be minimized. Traditionally, items such as paper tickets and invoices not only go from hand to hand but also site to site, increasing the amount of germs and potential viruses left behind. If paper money can carry more germs than a household toilet, imagine how filthy the documents laying around a job site are? Digital solutions like Tread’s construction fleet management software limits contact by removing these hand-to-hand processes; contractors can issue e-tickets and access delivery-related information in real-time, without time-consuming phone calls or paper processes 

  • Adopt software to replace handling paperwork (like paperless ticketing or e-ticketing) and similar items. 
  • Empower employees working from home with digital documents they otherwise may not be able to access.

Site logistics and working remotely

While risk should be assessed and potential choke points removed on specific sites, also consider adopting a remote work policy and remote fleet management processes to support physical distancing and contactless operations. However, antiquated processes like paper forms and spreadsheets are difficult to manage while working remotely. For maximum visibility throughout your construction operations, use a digital tool for web or mobile to manage your entire operation. 

Digital tools can also help dispatchers by creating safer practices without the need for physical contact. And with truck dispatch software, you can better prepare schedules and deliveries knowing when equipment is arriving on site.

Other areas to consider are: 

  • Screen all workers and visitors to the site to verify they do not have a fever and limit visitors to only those necessary.
  • Remove community food and lunch areas as well as community drinking water, coffeepots, and shared appliances.
  • Assign and track work orders via desktop or mobile apps. 

Worker education and training

One of the biggest challenges during this time is the spread of false or misleading information. 

While posting and communicating COVID-19 policies to ensure worker safety, it’s important that supervisors openly discuss health and safety protocols.

Another important part of ensuring workers remain safe includes implementing the relevant training required to adapt to the changing industry. This includes ensuring contractors or subs who may not be on the job site when onboarding sessions take place, be given the same training, remotely. For this, businesses need a trusted partner that can make onboarding – whether in-person or remote – a seamless integration. Look for the right tech provider that offers versatility in training. Tread technologies, for example, has a multilingual Customer Success team, and is able to train dispatchers, drivers and other users online, via calls or text messages in a matter of days. 

As such, sites should: 

  • Hold a company-wide stand-down to ensure that everyone is receiving the same message at the same time. 
  • Offer thorough off-site training to ensure your team is comfortable using it. Work with a technology provider who can onboard your team remotely and effectively.
  • Post signage and materials in English as well as all other languages spoken by large numbers of workers. Ensure any software solution you use also comes in various languages for easier training and communication. 
  • Make sure workers are aware that their off-work behavior could expose them to the virus. They should follow any government stay-at-home orders and practice social distancing when off-site. 

A pandemic-ready job site takes thought and precaution. As the construction industry gears up to get back to work, it’s imperative the sector takes appropriate steps to ensure it’s done safely.

Whether you manage a fleet or you’re an owner-operator, Tread makes moving construction materials like asphalt and aggregates easier, faster, and more profitable. Contact us today to book a free demo and learn how Tread helps you work smarter and safer.