As the remainder of the construction industry gets ready to ramp up construction all over the UK, one housebuilder, in the south of England, isn’t rushing to re-open its sites.
Andrew Brooks, Managing Director of Bewley Homes, explains why his company are delaying going back on site.
“The construction industry is under huge pressure to re-open due to the financial implications of staying shut and delivering sold and affordable homes, so I can see why housebuilders need to re-open as soon as they can. However, we are taking a different approach.
“If all goes well, we aim to be back working on all our sites at the start of June. We have a plan in place which will involve getting our sites mobilised and prepared for work from the second week in May. We will be working closely with our suppliers, learning from competitors, updating, and testing to make sure our policies and procedures are robust.
“The Bewley construction team are trialling measures and solving issues before full site roll outs begin. There’s a huge logistical challenge to get 400 workers back on site at once and it needs methodical planning. It’s not just the logistical changes to get subcontractors to respect the 2m rule plot by plot and to navigate around the entire site, there are also new on-site safety measures to put in place and guides our subcontractors must follow.
“Our motto, at Bewley Homes, is ‘Safety and People First’ and our staff and suppliers we work with respect us for it. Nearly every aspect of life has changed, if not forever, certainly for the next few months. Construction sites are no different and how we work on site has moved on. Putting the onus on our sub-contractors to meet the new health and safety requirements is not enough! We need to put measures in place for them to be easily implemented to ensure a productive and safe day’s work.
“We are working very closely with One.site, a new health and safety site management platform launched by specialist construction communications partners, UK Connect. Having worked successfully with the company on multiple IT, voice and broadband set ups on site, it was an obvious choice.”
“One of the many issues the industry needs to resolve is the critical health and safety induction. We are now being advised not to induct more than five people at a time. I’ve heard that some housebuilders are doing more than that but doing it outside. We don’t think this is viable long-term or an effective solution. Inductions should not be compromised in any way. Putting a lot of people in a room is not productive or effective.”
‘One.site’ is rolling out a system for all Bewley sites which includes new health and safety inductions for each site worker. This goes further than just reading some information from a sheet. Every subcontractor will be have to undergo an induction in their own home and pass before gaining access to a Bewley Homes’ site!
Andrew added: “This will involve 100 per cent focus which would not be possible if you did the induction on site. And most importantly, it makes sure they know everything to follow the new regulations. Contractors come to site ready and re-assured. The old way of inducting 10 people in a small room has long gone.
“Signing workers into your site has taken some working out and sharing a pen, punching into a tablet or fingerprint scans are no longer options. We are adopting digital sign-ins so we know who is on site using a tablet or smart phone. Workers’ mobiles will act like a digital passport. Once they have been inducted, they are able to work on any Bewley site and their credentials will always be accessible.”
Commenting on the ongoing work with Bewley Homes, PJ Farr, Founder and Managing Director of One.site, said: “As housebuilders across the country return to work, health and safety must be the top priority. We are by no means through this pandemic so offering as much protection to on-site construction workers as possible is non-negotiable.”
He continued: “We are excited to be launching One.site on all Bewley Homes’ developments. One.site technology not only streamlines the induction and sign in process through contactless technology but overall makes their sites safer and smarter. Bewley’s commitment to the welfare of staff and subcontractors is to be admired.
“We’re proud that One.site technology is helping to play a part in supporting necessary social distancing in response to Covid-19. Equally as important, we’re helping in the essential task of getting the construction sector building at pre-pandemic staffing levels once more.”
Andrew Brooks is impressed with what he’s seen so far. Andrew finished: “Our sub-contractors will know we have done everything possible to keep them all safe and working on site in this new era.
Andrew said: “I’m impressed by the way One.site has approached the issues and come up with realistic solutions that are helping us re-open our sites safely and effectively. We are working with the company on other methods to fight Covid-19 in order to roll out further safety measures in the near future.
“Whilst the roll out of this new induction method will be a huge benefit, it will be the support and respect on site which will make the difference. And not being one of the first back on site, we will be keen to learn the best practises to further improve our site safety from other housebuilders.”