Thomas Bradley from Mobile Mini explains what factors businesses need to take into consideration when planning a construction site office
NOW that most construction sites have re-opened, planners have a lot of new rules to abide by to ensure the workplace is Covid-secure. Successfully planning a construction site office now needs to take into consideration things like social distancing and extra hygiene measures.
To ensure a site stays open, the planning process must consider all aspects of safety and security. This can include standard health and safety regulations, your office, storage and security.
In an already heavily regulated sector, it can be difficult to adhere to these new rules in addition to existing legislation.
Making the construction site Covid-secure
Putting Covid-secure measures in place isn’t optional, it’s mandatory. Businesses who don’t follow these regulations can face fines of up to £10,000. A key aspect of these measures is the ‘one metre plus’ rule. This means workers should ideally remain two metres apart, but a strict minimum of one metre if that’s not possible. Hygiene measures like hand washing stations at site entrances and exits are also essential.
One way construction firms can make these essential rules easier to follow is by reducing the number of people on-site at once. By introducing staggered start and finishing times, you’ll have fewer people present and therefore it’ll be easier for those workers to socially distance. Additionally, this will help you to limit the number of workers using canteens, workspaces and drying facilities at once.
The latest version of the CLC’s Site Operating Procedures has been updated to include guidance on following these measures, as well as offering additional advice.
Improve the security of your site
While implementing Covid-secure measures, you shouldn’t forget about standard site security. Theft can happen at any point, especially during times where our focus may be elsewhere. Attacks can often take place on weekends or during longer periods of downtime — which is something that could happen again at the blink of an eye in the current climate.
Although your site office isn’t permanent, it’s still likely to hold sensitive documentation, valuable equipment and personal items. That’s why keeping thieves out is vital. It’s no surprise that many sites will rent a storage container, which are durable and built to function as an office with workspaces and other amenities, but also offer as protection with a robust locking mechanism that can offer high levels of protection.
Stop weather ruining your site
Bad weather might halt your site operations temporarily, but your office will still be present and functional. Protection against the elements is key for any construction site, and with the security benefits a durable steel storage container site office can offer, the use of one for weatherproofing is a no-brainer. Not to mention the fact it can keep occupants dry, providing they are following social distancing measures.
Keep essential equipment accessible
According to the HSE, all building sites must keep specific safety equipment and signage in plain sight. Not having these on display can lead to companies being issued hefty fines.
Your site needs a first-aid kit which is not only suitable for your employees, but that is easily accessible. Housing it in a site office means it can be kept secure, dry, and in good condition. Fire safety regulations stipulate that you should have at least one fire extinguisher on-site, but having multiple extinguishers is recommended.
Key information and signage must be visible
Chances are, you’ll need to signpost a lot of safety information. These signs should be on display around the site where employees can see them. A device for workers to sign in and out on should be placed in the office where it can be kept safe and referenced whenever an emergency arises.
You’ll also need to keep a lot of important documentation on-site. This can include:
- Accident logs
- Induction forms
- Health and safety policies
- Construction phase plan
- Risk assessments
- Method statements
- Work permits
- Training records
- Site registers
You can also put a notice board up in your site office for any new information or regulations your site employees need to be aware of. Spare PPE should also be safe and dry so it can be used by visitors when they are permitted to come on-site.
Consider the amenities your employees need
Because of the temporary nature of site offices, you may need to consider separate employee facilities. Those amenities for workers should be close by. Portable drying rooms, shower units and toilets are vital considerations when planning the site so that employees have everything they need in one centralised hub.
There are so many considerations for site planners when putting together a secure, safe site. With the introduction of Covid-secure measures, the project becomes more complex. That’s why the considerations mentioned in this article are a great place to start. They’ll also help your people maintain high levels of productivity without worrying about falling foul of the rules. The hope now for sites that already takes these factors into account is that they can continue to operate without another lockdown.