By now we can safely assume that everyone on the planet has been impacted in some way by the COVID-19 pandemic. This strain of the virus has the world grappling with a harsh new reality of lockdown, job losses, a spiralling economy and a great deal of uncertainty as to what the future holds for us all. Many countries across the globe, along with provinces, states and cities within those countries, have declared a State of Emergency to get out in front of this situation to minimize the impact on people’s health and the global economy.
Fundamental to this new reality is the need to avoid public gatherings, stay at home and respect the minimum social distancing measures when leaving the house for any essentials. For many of us, this new reality means making a shift to working from home and, thanks to an abundance of available technology, a significant percentage of people can now make that adjustment without losing the ability to earn a living. We at 4castplus, for example, are all now working from home using a variety of tools to make this transition relatively smooth and painless. However, making this transition is not necessarily so straightforward for the majority of people out in the workforce. Statistically, only about 29% of workers have the means or job-type to work from home. The majority of people in the world work in jobs that can’t be taken home. Jobs like: manufacturing, travel & tourism, retail and assemblyline work. Many of these industries have unfortunately been forced to close due to this pandemic. Other industries such as food, transportation, utilities, along with the brave frontline healthcare workers, are considered “Essential Services”, and are required to continue operations in order to keep the lights on, food on the table and ongoing care for the sick.
So, what does this mean for the construction industry? This is a bit of a gray area, since how COVID-19 is affecting construction differs by region and the specifics of the project. Curbed has written a very good article that outlines some of what’s going on in this industry during this pandemic.
How COVID-19 is affecting the construction industry worldwide
They state, “While some cities and states are shutting construction down, others are granting exceptions, particularly where it relates to the nationwide housing shortage. Meanwhile, industry groups are pushing for federal-level designation of construction as an essential business. Individual workers and small-business owners are torn between concerns for health and safety, the very urgent need for a steady paycheck, and legal contractual obligations.”
As you’ll see in that article, what is considered essential is highly dependent on the region and the type of construction project. Chicago, for example, is allowing “construction required in response to this public health emergency, hospital construction, construction of long-term care facilities, public works construction, and housing construction.”
In Canada, the Canadian Construction Association has released the guideline, COVID-19 Standardized Protocols for All Canadian Construction Sites. This document, according to a Daily Commercial News article on COVID-19 protocols for construction sites, "provides best practices and a consistent national approach for employers and employees to follow in order to protect themselves and the public at large and help minimize the spread of the coronavirus so that work can be continued safely", indicates a CCA release. "These protocols include measures on prevention, detection and rapid response based on information and recommendations from respected public health authorities.” This by no means provides a clear set of rules about what is and isn’t an essential service in construction, but it does set out the protocols for operating a healthy construction site, communications, travel, safety, etc.
WorkSafeBC in British Columbia, Canada has also compiled a summary of workplace recommendations for construction projects.
Additionally, CFMA members can view a very informative panel discussion webinar that tackles the impacts the coronavirus is having on construction companies.
More Resources to Come
As the situation continues to unfold, we’ll provide regular updates on what we know and new resources that will hopefully help you navigate this highly unusual and unchartered landscape.
Stay safe and healthy everyone. As always, the team at 4castplus is here providing support and help to our clients and the industry. 4castplus is fully web and cloud-based, so you can continue to access the system from your new home-office or other safe working environment.