The Coronavirus pandemic has set the world on fire, impacting many industries and areas of activity. The question is whether and how it will potentially affect the scaffolding industry.
With an overwhelming number of COVID-19 cases confirmed worldwide, UK has already been severely affected by this infectious disease.
The government took drastic measures, hoping they would contribute to the slowing down of the disease. They banned large public gatherings, they closed schools, they canceled events, and sent people to work from home. Unfortunately, the scaffolding and the constructions industry can’t send their employees to work from home.
According to some estimations, up to 80% of workers might be unable to work during the peak of this epidemic. This could mean weeks or even months.
Energy firm EDF confirmed that some of their workers had been infected with the COVID-19 virus. This firm is currently building two nuclear reactors. Not being able to make use of their workers might trigger their impossibility to keep their agreed deadlines.
Supply Chains Are Troubled
Many scaffolding materials come from China. Tube and fittings along with scaffold and shrink wrap hire are only a few examples of imports that come from the very epicentre of the infectious outbreak that locked everyone into their homes.
According to a statement released to Scaffmag, the company said that the nature of their business forced them to work at full production capacity during the winter months. This allowed them to grow their stocks in Germany and in all their 140+ service centres in the world.
According to Layher, they always proceed this way to ensure they are prepared for the busiest seasons of the year, namely the spring and the summer. In addition, the uncertainty over Brexit determined the firm to up their stick levels to higher than usual levels.
This helped them not to depend on suppliers to keep their production going on as scheduled. Since imports from China have become problematic, these stocks actually saved the business from disaster.
As the lockdown has been enforced, all scaffolding training courses across the UK (and everywhere in the world for that matter) were put on hold. This means that scaffolders weren’t able to receive this extremely important training required to maintain adequate safety levels. Since there were no more Scaffolder CPD courses, workers who needed to renew their CISRS cards were unable to work any longer. Since they weren’t allowed to work without proper certifications, the industry has suffered from a lack of work force. This took a negative toll on both workers and companies in the scaffolding industry, as they had to overcome the financial challenges resulting from this situation.
Procedures At Constructions Sites
In spite of the coronavirus pandemic, the UK government has been keen on allowing constructions works to continue, with some restrictions and special measures in place. This industry has faced a challenge to keep their workers safe from the typical risks of this trade, as well as from health risks. Maintaining a safe distance in order to avoid spreading the virus has changed the way these people work. We have released our own guide, “Guidance for Scaffolders” and we will be shortly reviewing it to add vital information and guidelines that could save lives. Also, we want to make sure that all of our guidelines are in line with the Site Operating Procedures by the Construction Leadership Council.
Here are a few of the social distancing measures we’ve considered:
– One-way systems
– Lone travelling
– Hand-sanitiser on site
– More space in washrooms and rest rooms
– Staggered shift and breaks
– Consistency of work teams
– Limited the number of persons to use lifts and hoists at the same time
– Regular cleaning and disinfection of all knobs, door handles, and common touch points
– Regular cleaning and disinfection of all work equipment and tools