The global COVID-19 pandemic has affected every business across the UK in some way. As many close their doors temporarily for business and workers find themselves staying home under government advice, we must recognise the ‘key workers’ that are operating harder than ever to keep the essential backbones of the country going.
Often when we hear the term ‘key workers’, our minds immediately jump to the NHS and care staff battling on the front line against the virus. Of course, we cannot thank these individuals enough. These people put their own lives at risk, work extremely long hours and witness the most heart-breaking scenes first-hand every day. We can’t imagine what they are going through and for that, we salute them.
We do, however, want to also attribute thanks to all the other key workers out there. When the official lockdown began on the 23rd March, the government outlined the following 8 critical working sectors required for the country to continue through:
- Health and Social Care
- Education and Childcare
- Key Public Services
- Local and National Government
- Food and Other Necessary Goods
- Public Safety and National Security
- Utilities, Communication and Financial Services
It’s non-disputable that these sectors must remain open; we simply could not cope without them and as a nation, we clap, bang pots and make as much noise as possible every week, for all those ‘key workers’ that continue when we need them the most.
Interestingly over the past few weeks, we have witnessed some mixed press about the construction sector. ‘Construction’ is not specifically highlighted as essential work and the nature of some construction projects makes social distancing hard to enforce. The official government guidelines and their lack of specificity over working from home, however, has left the industry in a somewhat grey area.
At Trustland Construction, we cover a range of specialisms from fire-safe surveys and installation, to refurbishment and fit-outs, glazing, demolition, design and build, civil engineering, and maintenance works, all specifically across the commercial sector. Before formal lockdown measures were announced, we started to feel the effects of change in our existing projects. We stopped all work on our nuclear sites early on, as they entered a lockdown of their own and we started enhanced safety measures with additional toolbox talks specifically about COVID-19. After watching the action of other European countries, it was clear that a UK lockdown wasn’t too far behind, so we started preparing for office workers to work from home too.
The following few weeks have held a lot of uncertainty and like many other construction companies, we made the difficult decision to furlough some of our team. Despite such tough calls, we can say honestly that we have not once considered temporarily closing the business. After all, how could we, when our crucial ‘key workers’ still need us?
Since the lockdown was enforced, we have mostly been working for our clients within the food production sector. One such project has been for a Wirral based cereal manufacturer, to put in place safe and effective social distancing measures. This ranged from floor markings and area segregation to setting up additional temporary welfare facilities.
One of our other clients, a canned food processor in the Wigan area, has had full and continued support from our maintenance team. All vital work being done to help ensure that their core business can continue with as little disruption as possible. The result, we still see the products we all love on shelves of the supermarkets.
With a depleted and limited supply chain available, such work has undoubtedly been a challenge; although it has been interesting to see new business relationships developing and an increased sense of camaraderie throughout the industry. The way that we are working has changed; rapid mobilisation of our supply chain is now more crucial than ever and with a reduced contact policy in place, deliveries and day to day processes have had to evolve.
To ensure that we are doing everything we can to protect our own ‘key workers’, and those on our sites, we have adapted our site operating procedures, to enforce the following (amongst others):
- Regular COVID-19 Toolbox talks
- Regular hand washing and sanitizing
- Decreased contact for deliveries
- Reduced seating in the mess cabins
- Workers bringing in their food from home
- Reduction in group travelling to and from site
- Staggered break times
- Increased cleaning of site cabins and equipment
- Adequate disposing of single-use PPE
- 2-meter distancing policy wherever physically possible
‘Key Workers’ come in many forms and we’re more than proud to support them and have them working in our ranks. Thank you to you all; you’re doing an outstanding job!