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Construction Site Reopening Checklist

Plan for a compliant reopening of construction sites and ensure the safe return of your workforce

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Moving Construction Projects Forward In The Face of COVID-19

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are rippling across the global construction industry and have continuously caused unprecedented challenges to the sector. With the unscheduled closures of construction sites, projects have been impacted by severe delays, disrupted supply chains, labor shortages, permit delays, contractual complications, and financing pressures.

Despite these challenges, the construction industry shall eventually restart projects and move toward the new normal. This will bring forth a wave of changes for the construction sector—some of which may be permanent. Keeping a tight ship in these circumstances requires utmost coordination and cooperation across all levels of the organization to ensure the safe and compliant reopening of construction sites.

In this article, we will highlight focus areas for the reopening of construction sites and feature reopening checklist templates to help project managers and safety officers plan for the seamless resumption of construction projects.

Reopening Construction Sites: Top 7 Focus Areas

In the reopening of construction sites, comprehensive planning is key in ensuring the safety of the construction workforce and resuming operations that are in accordance with local and international health and safety restrictions. Here are top 7 areas of consideration that leaders can focus on to effectively manage the risks of reopening:

Established Site Operating Procedures (SOP)

Before starting construction work during a public health crisis, it is critical to first have a review of the construction work phases, its risks, and the steps necessary to comply with government guidance. With well-documented site operating procedures (SOP), project managers can have a good starting point for risk assessment and establishing the revised method statements to determine exactly which controls are necessary for risk mitigation.

Safety of Employees and Their Families

Construction site reopening should center around the safety of its people. It is important to strategize how projects can resume while ensuring that employees can go to work and leave the site as safe as possible. The appropriate levels of safety control should be applied for identified risks; these can include measures such as improved ventilation, setting up a mobile food canteen within safe parameters, additional sanitary tools and facilities, and provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) against COVID-19 infection. It would also be good for companies to talk to employees and know how the company can provide assistance to protect the health and safety of their employees’ families.

Social Distancing Implementation

The need for social distancing will probably remain for months or years to come; it could lead to lower productivity, but is essential if a business is to continue operations despite the pandemic. Activities and processes in construction sites must be altered to make social distancing work. Work must be scheduled carefully to allow sufficient distance (usually at least 2m) between workgroups and individuals. Other measures can also include staggered work shifts and breaks, using personal hoists or lifts, and allocation of isolation rooms for people who exhibit symptoms.

Site Walks and Equipment Inspection

With sites and equipment being left idle during temporary project shutdowns, there may be increased risk within the premises. Site walks and equipment inspection can provide project managers and safety officers a clearer picture of their conditions and identify the necessary actions to manage risk. With the use of site audit checklists, it will be easier to document the walkthrough and easily set corrective actions as they do the inspection.

Cleaning

Increased frequency for cleaning and disinfection of working tools and equipment will be the
new norm for construction sites. Protocols must be set to schedule cleaning activities and minimize disruption to activities. Communication should also be given focus to ensure that all personnel are aware of their individual responsibilities to maintain cleanliness within the facility.

Contractual Obligations with Contractors and Sub-contractors

It is recommended that project managers review contracts with contractors and sub-contractors and take specific note of any force majeure provisions that allow for work to be halted when events like a pandemic arise. The impacts of COVID-19, particularly regarding supply chain disruptions, are sufficiently broad and many claims will be valid.

Legal Compliance

While the pandemic has allowed for some delays in statutory requirements such as annual inspections, it has not entirely exempted construction companies from them. It still remains the company’s responsibility to ensure that they abide by traditional laws and regulations concerning their operations and the new requirements related to the pandemic. These can include guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), World Health Organization (WHO), and the United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

It will be important to accurately document these efforts to help substantiate a company’s position should there be a case for entitlement. Documentation will also help serve as reference for learning and improved risk management strategies for future health crises.

Plan for Safe and Compliant Construction Reopening with iAuditor Checklists

Reopening construction sites will be a challenging task; it is vital to plan thoroughly and equip your team with tools and resources that can help in the safe and compliant resumption of construction activities. To get you started, we have gathered construction reopening checklists from iAuditor by SafetyCulture that are designed to help construction sites safely resume operations after a temporary shutdown due to the pandemic.

*Please note that these screening checklists are hypothetical examples and provide basic information only. They are not intended to take the place of medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should also seek your own professional advice to determine if the use of such a checklist is permissible in your workplace or jurisdiction.

Author

John Derick Flores

SafetyCulture Staff Writer

Dirk is a contributing writer for SafetyCulture who has 3+ years of experience being a Safety Officer in an international airline. Over the course of his tenure, he worked on projects involving training management, ramp safety inspections, quality & safety certification audits, and safety promotion programs. Further, he is interested in maximizing the power of technology to help make the world a better place.