Structural engineering shapes the workplace after the pandemic
Employers are encouraged to take a modern approach to ensuring that safety is paramount.
During the pandemic, construction was classified as a major industry in most of the United States. Given the experience of crisis management, the construction can offer a lot of insight to the companies that are now reopening. Specifically, how to use technology to keep people safe at work, even after we move into a post-pandemic world.
Lessons learned about the early pandemic
When the COVID-19 pandemic first broke out, general contractors (GC) were forced to take a closer look at how workers, subcontractors and visitors get to a construction site.
The traditional practice of passing around a clipboard and pen for everyone to log in would no longer work. It wasn’t because they feared that sharing a clipboard would (can’t) spread COVID-19. This was because the already time-consuming process of registering on a construction site was expanded to include additional steps – health examinations and temperature controls.
With the pandemic, everyone had to be interviewed and their responses safely recorded. When the check-in process was complete, the information was either plotted in a spreadsheet or added to growing paperwork. Employees spent hours doing health screenings and then entering the details or, more typically, tossing the check-in logs in a box and hoping they were never needed.
When it became clear that COVID-19 was not going to go away anytime soon, paper-based recording systems showed their weaknesses. Even with data entered into a spreadsheet, contact tracking was almost impossible. There wasn’t even a way to know if an infected worker was still on a construction site.
The headlines were the frequent shutdowns of construction projects due to COVID-19 outbreaks. GCs feared additional closings, had to send workers home for 14 days, and may violate OSHA regulations based on CDC guidelines.
Some of these shutdowns could have been avoided. According to Rod Courtney, health, safety and environmental manager at Electrical Gear Engineer Ampirical, “When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit, employees who reported to the office or to a construction site were not allowed to enter without first having their temperatures measured have and answer their health questions in a .pdf. ”