Covid-19 has impacted many sectors across the UK, with the construction and civil engineering industry being hit significantly. Although most construction sites opened back up in May, it is clear the sector is still adjusting to its own new normal.
When lockdown was first announced, some sites closed until further notice, while others remained open limiting activity. The government later suggested that working on sites should go ahead wherever safe to do so. Sites including housing seemed to have now reopened in strong numbers after being initially hit hard. However, safety is the most important factor in reopening construction sites, which is why the government released its own guidance on working safely during Covid-19.
Despite this, challenges still remain because of the virus. Reduced manpower, due to furlough, sickness, and strict social distancing rules, has had a knock-on effect on projects of all sizes. Many workers also have concerns about returning to work safely, while trying to protect themselves and those they live with.
The government advises that if work cannot be undertaken at home, then the 2-metre rule should apply to workplaces. If this cannot be achieved safely, then procedures must be put in place to stop the virus from spreading, such as handwashing stations.
Employers also need to manage how individuals work together, such as using staggered work hours. Where face-to-face contact is essential, this should be kept to 15 minutes or less where possible. The impact of these social distancing rules has slowed down many construction sites, who are unable to have the same amount of staff as before.
Although Covid-19 has had negative impacts on the construction sector, there have been some improvements made because of it. Construction disputes have been managed much more quickly, saving both parties valuable time. Due to lockdown, courts have been using virtual platforms to hear cases. What was once a long and expensive process has now seen significant cost and time savings. It appears that Covid-19 has forced the sector to move at a breakneck speed.
Dispute resolution is quicker compared to previous years, but it still can be a huge and unnecessary burden for companies, particularly as margins are likely to be thinner. Methods have been taken by construction courts during lockdown to bring savings for every party in the supply chain. For example, the introduction of remote hearings, which highlight shortcomings of traditional trials. In-person hearings have long waiting times and delays are frequent. But virtual hearings make this process far more cost and time-efficient, and construction is excellently placed to adopt the virtual hearings in the long-term.
Although the construction sector has been hit by the pandemic, steps are already being taken to get things back to a new normal. If you have any construction or civil engineering needs, please contact Lydon Contracting today.
Lydon Contracting Ltd
Your Total Construction Solution
Tel: 01327 811533