Establishing a Gold standard covid-secure site
Sigma, the commercial space transformation specialists, are used to dealing with challenging sites. From small building footprints to a lack of delivery space, their teams are used to planning for most eventualities that could crop up on site.
However, when the Covid-19 pandemic struck, it was hard to imagine how it would be possible to operate a building site in a safe manner. When social distancing was introduced and the link to good hygiene practices established, it became an even bigger ask.
Scope of Works
- Revised policies and inductions
- ‘Clean’ zone
- Four gate site route (ensuring social distancing)
- One way system
- Dedicated covid marshal
- Sanitising stations
- Temperature checks
- Revised welfare areas
- PPE & antibacterial products
- 24hour on site cleaners
- Client – Asda
- Objective – Ensuring a gold standard covid-secure environment on-site
- Location – Chadderton, Oldham
The challenge – creating a safe environment for building works to resume
This was evident at a project that had already commenced earlier in the year and that had ceased operation when the UK-lockdown came into force. Faced with needing to get their workers back on site but with their health and safety paramount, Sigma had a challenge ahead to make the site operational again.
Undeterred, Sigma brought together a team of experts to explore what measures could reasonably be put in place to ensure a covid-secure environment. The results are as impressive as they are repeatable, ensuring that Sigma can continue to deliver for all its clients to the highest standards without compromising any element of health and safety.
The solution: a multi-step journey to site safety
The solution put in place by Sigma started with negotiating additional space for the site compound, which involved taking capacity from the existing car-park to create a new ‘clean zone’. This was quickly agreed to by the client and so work started on creating a new, all-encompassing way of working to protect everyone involved in working on the site.
Utilising the additional space, a four-gate site route has been set up. Before even getting through the first gate, however, 2m distancing measures are in place as the site team queue to access the site.
At the first gate, workers are expected to wash their hands and have their temperature taken, as well as sharing their details so that a Covid Marshall can sign them in which limits handling of stationary items. The Covid Marshall is a new role that has been established to ensure there is a continued focus on welfare in light of what is now known about the healthcare pandemic, and sees someone on site all day making sure that new ways of working are adhered to by all on site.
Gate two has a sanitising station which contains anti-bacterial products and hand sanitiser which must be used before progressing into the main site. This leads to a safe zone, where workers arrive with new welfare facilities including a marquee that has been set up with appropriately-spaced tables and chairs, a covid-secure canteen and toilet block. Toilet facilities throughout the site have been addressed with the middle cubicle taken out of action to allow the continued enforcement of social distancing.
Gate three is the main site, where further changes have been made to working practices to ensure the safety of workers. New PPE shows the 2m social distancing rule and items such as gloves, masks and screens are readily available for those that need them. Drying rooms have been closed to avoid any cross contamination and workers are asked to turn up to site in their workwear, minimising the need for changing space. Random temperature checks are taken throughout each day and should a worker show a higher than expected reading or becomes otherwise symptomatic, they are asked to complete an acknowledgement form and to leave site for the required 14 days.
New signage banners have been erected to remind people of the expectations upon them to maintain a covid-secure environment and to promote health and safety measures; this includes some new sustainable hoarding that is made from 80% recycled materials and that can be moved from site to site to increase its usage.
Sub-contractors who work with Sigma are held to the same standards on site; this is helped by the strong working relationships and shared values that Sigma has with all those they work with meaning it’s been seamless transition into post-covid working. Expectations of ways of working have been shared with all parties and confirmation received that this will be complied with. Delivery drivers who are bringing goods to site are asked to remain in their vehicle whilst site staff unload deliveries so that handling of goods is limited.
Throughout the site there is a dedicated 24 hour cleaning team of three whose remit is to ensure anything touched by someone is cleaned quickly and efficiently.
As workers reach the end of their shift, they are directed towards the final gate – gate four. Here they are again expected to follow a process to ensure a safe exit, including signage indicating which hand should touch things like taps or doors to again minimise cross contamination.
These new ways of working have been incorporated into the Sigma induction process which ensures anyone new to the business is aware of the expectations when on site and the procedures that must be followed. It’s also led to a re-write of core Health and Safety policies so that the best practice established at Chadderton is adopted as a best in class approach elsewhere.
The response: continuing to evolve the health and safety-first culture
Thanks to an already well-established health and safety culture within Sigma, staff have adjusted really well to the new measures. Alongside this, the client is able to visibly see the steps that have been taken to ensure the welfare of all on site which has proved reassuring as work recommenced.
Site workers have been naturally cautious about returning to work, especially in an environment where they are used to working in very close proximity, and so Sigma has been thoughtful in the way it has launched its approach to site safety and in the reassurance it continues to give its workforce on a daily basis.
Site safety must always be a priority and at Asda Chadderton, Sigma has demonstrated how covid-safe measures can be quickly and safely established. By working with the client and its internal SHEQ team, work has been fully resumed and is on target with only a two-week delay to completion.