Following the Government’s slightly ambiguous guidance on COVID-19 and construction works, all live projects based on site have been reviewed thoroughly by the contractor, project manager and client to assess whether works should be suspended or can continue with strict H&S measures in place. The priority, however, for all involved is the health and wellbeing of those on site and visiting site.
Our sites in central London initially suspended works then closed. However, we are now starting to see contractors return to site. For example, works at Stanford Building in Covent Garden have resumed following a review by the contractor, albeit with a skeleton workforce. Extra H&S measures have been put in place, such as daily toolbox talks, sanitisation stations, extra signage and distancing measures in staff breakout areas. However, “downtime” has been productive with a recent crane lift on what would have normally been a very busy Saturday in Covent Garden.
In comparison, where we are project managing refurbishment projects to industrial units, such as the Chill Box in Essex, these have stayed open throughout but with extra measures in place. Generally, these are larger sites with both external and internal works allowing operatives to comply social distancing measures easier than an internal project in London, for example. They can also drive to site unlike projects based in London, which often require a trip on the tube or bus.
Additionally, there are further challenges with availability of labour and concerns on the procurement of materials and equipment. These issues have been reported by all contractors I am currently working with and is reviewed on a weekly basis as it will potentially have further detrimental effect on the overall programme.
Communication with clients, contractors and the design team is key at the moment with regular meetings held on various platforms, enabling us to review issues and hopefully resolve them in time for normality to resume.