As a business, we take pride in ensuring the health, safety and wellbeing of those who work in our offices and on our sites. With it becoming increasingly evident in early March 2020 that the situation surrounding COVID-19 was becoming potentially more severe than we had initially thought, we ensured we took a proactive, rather than reactive, approach to reviewing our Health & Safety procedures, and how we operate: a stance we continue to take to this day.
COVID-19 Workplace Champion
Our SHE Manager, Charlene Lodge, was recognised as a COVID-19 Workplace Champion by The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA). Charlene has been at the forefront of our response, prioritising the Health, Safety & Wellbeing of everyone working on our sites during these unusual times.
March marked the first anniversary of the first national lockdown, with the 25th marking one year since we closed our sites for the first time since World War 2. We produced ‘COVID-19 One Year On’ document as a reminder of what we had done over the previous 12 months to protect our staff and the business, but also how we remained very strong despite this challenging period.
As a further step to ensure those who are using head office remain safe, face masks were required to be worn at all times, even when sitting at a desk.
All Site Managers were required to complete the CITB’s ‘COVID-19 Setting up and operating a safe construction site’ training course.
In November, to ensure we actively gather the required close contact information to allow any employees that receive a positive test result to inform NHS Test & Trace effectively, we introduced a COVID-19 Case Report Form, replacing our Project Status Tracker, to provide a more comprehensive report on a potential case. This ensured our own procedure was followed, and establishes the action taken to safeguard others. Close contacts were established as part of the initial response, and the form was updated following the booking of a test, and subsequent outcome.
On 24th September the NHS COVID-19 Test & Trace App was launched. All sites and offices displayed their relevant QR Codes, and all staff mobile phones had the app automatically installed onto them.
With the launch of Test & Trace, and then an increase in national cases following a return to schools and relaxation of lockdown rules, we introduced a COVID-19 Infection procedure, fully outlining the steps that should be taken from the initial concern of a potential case on-site, right through to returning to work following a positive test result.
Earlier in the year, we restricted our post-completion, aftercare visits to only those that were essential, and required urgent attention either by one of our own operatives or the relevant subcontractors.
As we planned the reintroduction of these visits, a COVID-19 Aftercare Video was produced in August, outlining not only the steps that we were taking, but also what we require the occupants to do to safeguard our staff and the residents themselves. This included, but was not limited to, ensuring all doors were open, the area was sufficiently ventilated, hand washing facilities were available upon arrival and requesting the residents wore masks, unless medically exempt.
Prior to a visit, our Aftercare department would make contact with the resident to ensure no one was displaying symptoms of COVID-19 or self-isolating, to ensure the visit can be undertaken safely. We continued to follow industry guidance ‘Working in Occupied Premises’, allowing our operatives to undertake remedial work.
We created and launched a specific COVID-19 Induction Video to replace our COVID-19 presentation, which was issued to all of our supply chain as part of regular updates to them. Our internal and external procedure documents, which continued to be updated regularly, were combined to form our COVID-19 Safety Procedure document.
We took further steps to reinforce the safety measures set out on our sites with COVID-19 Signage. A main noticeboard is displayed on all of our hoardings, with further signage displayed for:
- Hand Sanitising Locations
- One Way Routes, where applicable
- Reinforcing Social Distancing
- Mandatory Wearing of Masks, in communal areas
- No Access, where applicable
- Reinforcing regular hand washing during breaks
In July, we were delighted to support the Considerate Constructors Scheme, of which we are partners, with their Coronavirus Safety Checker Pilot Scheme. As part of this, we provided our procedures for COVID-19, which they reviewed to ensure we were compliant with all guidance that had been issued by CLC through their Site Operating Procedures. The auditor of the pilot scheme attended two of our sites, Warner House and Brewery Road, ensuring our procedures were backed up with our on-site actions.
With COVID-19 cases beginning to decline, and the COVID-19 alert level lowered, we reviewed how we could reopen the office safely, not only as a facility for staff, but allowing them to use as part of our review of their wellbeing. A COVID-19 risk assessment was produced, and our office subsequently reopened on June 22nd.
We introduced additional cleaning facilities, a one-way system within the building, an office rota to minimise the number of employees in at any one time, and allow social distancing to be practised. Further hand washing and sanitising facilities were made available throughout the office and in reception, with all staff required to wash their hands when entering and leaving the building. These were implemented in line with ‘Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19) – Office & Contact Centres’.
The office, along with our sites display our acknowledgement of the Government’s ‘Staying COVID-19 Secure’ notice.
By the end of May, all sites were once again operational, continuing to review how sites were operating with these increased control measures in place. The actions we took were acknowledged by the Considerate Constructors Scheme, with examples being published on the best practice hub.
A COVID-19 Project Status Tracker was introduced and required to be completed daily on each site. This recorded all trades on site each day, and a checklist of items to be completed by the site manager.
Four of our sites reopened on 20th April, including Warner House for St Albans City & District Council, which not only set the benchmark for how we can operate, but continued to maintain it until its handover later in the year, becoming our first scheme to be handed over during the pandemic.
COVID-19 branded PPE was introduced, which reinforced the messaging ‘Leave Space, Keep Safe’, along with more stringent procedures which included regular cleaning of key touchpoints and communal areas, and additional hand washing facilities at the site entrance and across the site. Our Construction Phase Plan was reviewed and updated with the addition of a standalone section for ‘Arrangements for Controlling Health, Safety & the Environment during COVID 19’.
Whilst sites remained closed, we continued to review the COVID-19 safety procedures we had set out, and how we could reopen sites, potentially on a site-by-site basis, whilst ensuring we could provide a safe working environment, ensuring social distancing measures were maintained, and most importantly, enforced.
Despite the uncertainty around reopening sites, we were pleased to be able to support Hillingdon Hospital NHS Trust, one of our longest tenured clients, with a substantial amount of PPE, hygiene and cleaning supplies.
25th March 2020
With a national lockdown announced on March 23rd, we took the decision to cease all construction activity as of March 25th, the first time Jarvis has done so since the Second World War. A full closure of sites was undertaken on March 27th, with the period in-between used to ensure the sites were left safe and secure for what at that point was an undefined period of time.
17th March 2020
On 17th March, we took the decision to close the office, with all office-based staff told to work from home. A ‘Work from Home’ DSE assessment was issued to all staff to ensure any additional requirements were sorted. This ranged from additional IT equipment to the provision of ergonomic chairs, to ensure staff could create a comfortable working environment.
To minimise unnecessary visitors on our sites, a ‘Permit to Access’ was created and issued, which was required to be completed by all non-operational visitors, alongside a health screening questionnaire. Both documents were reviewed by the SHEQ department and project team prior to any visitors arriving on site.
Naturally, this was an unsettling period for everyone. On 15th March, following an influx of questions, we issued a COVID-19 FAQs to our staff, reassuring them of our commitment to their wellbeing, and also reaffirming the support that we’re offering, including the availability our Wellbeing Champions for informal conversations if required, playing an invaluable role within our business.
11th March 2021
Communication played a key role in how we continued to operate safely in these unusual times The initial implementation of these changes was followed up by regular contact from our CEO with our supply chain, clients and key stakeholders, outlining the steps we were taking as a business. With the situation constantly changing, we produced Internal and External Actions Plans, which were issued on 11th March, and then regularly reviewed thereafter.
9th March 2020
On 9th March, we held an internal review of our procedures, introducing specific COVID-19 protocols ahead of Industry guidance being issued by the Government and the Construction Leadership Council (CLC). Our SHEQ department created and issued RAMS to safeguard staff, and prevent the spread of the virus. These were issued to all, along with the introduction of a suite of posters outlining the known symptoms.
Temperature testing facilities were provided to our project teams, allowing them to follow up on a visual inspection of operatives, test their temperature if deemed necessary, and refuse access to site should the individual’s temperature exceed 37.5°