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Sorcha Brennan: How to minimise the spread of Covid-19 on Construction sites

Sorcha Brennan: How to minimise the spread of Covid-19 on Construction sites

about 2 years ago By Karis McKenna
Copy Of Copy Of Psp Blog Work Life

Australia is continuing to closely monitor the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19). Cases of the COVID-19 virus are increasing in Australia and the situation is changing rapidly.

With the firm decision made to keep construction sites open, many employees are feeling vulnerable and at a massive risk of catching the virus. To help ease the stress and provide some reassurance, we caught up with Sorcha Brennan, Safety Manager at John Holland and previous Senior HSE Officer at Mirvac to share with you, her recommendations for social distancing and keeping safe onsite. 

Social distancing on construction sites will be challenging at times but is a key measure to minimise the spread of COVID-19. What’s the best practise for construction workers to follow this protocol?

There are a number of practises that can be implemented on construction sites to support social distancing. Some of these practises include:

  • Remove/reduce the number of tables and chairs in crib sheds to ensure people are 1.5m apart and consider obtaining additional crib sheds. 
  • Split teams and stagger their meal breaks and pre-start times to limit large groups of people in one place.
  • Limit non-essential visitors to site and where possible use technology instead of face-to-face meetings.
  • Consider working flexibly for those site personnel that may be able to work from home.

Construction work inevitably requires regular touching of objects and surfaces. This means that usual cleaning schedules on construction sites will need to be increased. What’s your advice for increasing construction site hygiene levels?

My advice would be to minimise touch points (e.g. keep doors open) and obviously increase cleaning frequency. Provide ample soap, hand sanitiser and paper towel across the site and provide alcohol or detergent wipes for personnel to wipe down plant, machinery and equipment touch points. As well as provide P2 masks for all workers.

It’s important that workers are kept well informed during these tough times, what topics should be covered daily in toolbox talks and can you recommend any resources for HSE Managers/ Site Managers to acquire?

Toolbox talks should cover the facts in relation to COVID-19, explain what protective measures around large group hygiene have been implemented and also discuss where personnel can find further support within the organisation if they are anxious or worried. As a health & safety professional, it is important to refer to the Australian & NZ Government websites for accurate information and updates on COVID-19. The World Health Organisation (WHO) is also a valuable source of information. (Please see links at the bottom of this page)

What are some issues facing health & safety professionals during these times?

Media coverage can sometimes create unnecessary anxiety in situations like these and I have no doubt that there will be health and safety professionals amongst many others on constructions sites who are providing support to many people while still doing their usual day to day role. Being in an essential industry is challenging in itself as you have to keep going in times when things are so uncertain.

What advice would you give to health & safety professionals who are struggling with the pressure of the current climate?

Keep moving forward and remember we are one industry, lean on your support networks if you need them. We will come out the other end.

Any other advice (safety or non-safety related) for people to follow over the next few weeks?

Continue to look after each other in whatever capacity you can, be kind and stay connected.

Helpful websites for updates and resources regarding Covid-19.