Despite the worrying news coming from China at the beginning of the year, nobody could have imagined having to deal with this terrible virus, able to spread quickly and widely, and getting more and more dangerous, causing the loss of a huge number of lives.
This experience was characterised, at the beginning, by a total loss of certainties, knowledge and understanding of what precautions to take and what actions to carry out regarding public health safety.
As in every other workplace, the construction industry had to research how to safeguard the health and safety of their workers, as well as everybody they could come in contact with, both on and off the construction site.
During the growing pandemic, the reference point was represented by all the regulatory provisions, issued time after time, even though they were hardly applicable during the first phases of the emergency.
Following the general principles regarding health and safety, we should consider the constitutional principle drawn to protect the “right to health” (art. 32, Constitution), as well as the art. 2087 of the Civil Code.
Starting with the initial definition of a “general biological risk” [Cfr. Protocollo del 14.03.2020] and its consequent temporary derogation [di cui all’art.16 del D.L. 17.03.2020] that classify surgical masks as PPE (personal protective equipment), we have witnessed a sometime hectic string of different dispositions, issued time after time, regarding their specificity and duration, up to what actions to carry out in regards to both the role of the Project Supervisor and the SCE (Safety Coordinator in the Execution Phase), with the only goal to make construction sites ready for the new needs.
Guidelines clearly show in detail everything that is necessary to ensure safety on a construction site: what behaviour to follow, how to grant access to external suppliers, cleaning and sanitation, personal hygiene precautions, personal safety devices, management of common areas, construction site organisation (shifts, redefinition of works schedule), handling of a symptomatic individual, health monitoring.
SITE MANAGER, EXECUTIVES AND APPOINTED INDIVIDUALS
Monitoring and verification activities
Site Manager and SCEs, but also employers or their representatives, need to monitor that on their construction sites all the following guidelines are implemented for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency:
· Verify that all employees have been informed about authorities’ guidelines regarding measures to be taken in order to contain the spreading of the virus
· Verify that all employees have been informed that they need to stay home in case of fever (above 37,5°C) and that they cannot enter or remain on the construction site in case of fever
· Verify that all employees know they must respect safety distance and use PPE when necessary
· Verify that all employees are aware they should immediately inform their employer in case of flu symptoms
· Verify that all employees have been informed that access must be denied to whomever has had contact with individuals tested positive to COVID-19 in the last 14 days or to whomever comes from zones considered risky by the World Health Organisation
· Verify that information material has been put up in strategic locations around the construction site (entrance, shacks, restrooms, etc.)
Entrance on the construction site
· Verify that all employees under our responsibility undergo a temperature check before entering the site
· Verify that all employees under our responsibility enter the site following the guidelines prescribed by the client and avoiding crowds
· If transportation service is provided by the company, guarantee and respect employees safety on every route through
o Distancing between employees while onboard
o Usage of PPE
o Service suspension
Access of external suppliers
· Ensure that suppliers follow the loading/unloading procedures prescribed by the client
· Verify that all employees under our responsibility maintain a safety distance from all external suppliers at every time; if this is not possible, ensure that all PPE are used
· Verify that all employees under our responsibility follow the procedures prescribed by the client in regards to access to common spaces and refreshment areas
Cleaning and sanitation on the construction site
· Ensure daily cleaning of changing rooms and shacks under our company’s responsibility
· Verify that all OTMs booths are sanitised after every use
· Verify that every employee under our responsibility uses personal equipment and guarantees their cleaning before and after using it
· In case equipment needs to be shared, ensure it is thoroughly sanitised before and after every use
· Verify that liquid soap and disposable paper towels are always available inside the restrooms; otherwise immediately inform the person in charge
Personal hygiene precautions
· Verify that all employees under our responsibility follow all the sanitation guidelines, especially those regarding hand sanitation
Personal safety devices
· Verify that masks are used following the guidelines of the World Health Organisation
· Ensure that masks are used every time a safety distance of at least 1 meter between two people cannot be maintained
Management of common areas (canteen, changing rooms, smoking areas, drinks/snacks vending machines, etc.)
· Ensure that all employees under our responsibility follow the procedures prescribed by the client in regards to the use of common areas
Company organisation (shifts, trips and smart working, redefinition of production levels)
· Ensure an employees shifts schedule for the construction site in order to reduce contacts to the minimum and create independent, distinct and recognisable groups
· Avoid meetings in confined places; if necessary, organise all meetings outdoor, ensuring a distance of at least 1 meter between every person
Employees entrance and exit
· Ensure that all employees under our responsibility follow the guidelines prescribed by the client in regards to entrance and exit from the construction site
· Avoid gatherings near the entrance/exit of the construction site
Internal movements, meetings, internal events, training
· Verify that all movement inside the site is reduced to a minimum, ensuring all employees under our responsibility stay inside their assigned area
11. Safety measures to prevent virus transmission when using company vehicles
· Hydroalcoholic solutions must be available for drivers and employees using company vehicles in order to guarantee regular cleaning of all the areas that have been in contact with someone’s hands (steering wheel, clutch, etc.) at least every time someone gets on and off the vehicle
· Constant air circulation inside the vehicle is recommended during the trip
In case other people are present besides the driver, and in case a 1 meter safety distance cannot be guaranteed, it’s recommended that all passengers use a FFP2 or FFP3 mask. Given the emergency situation and in order to avoid the spreading of the virus, it is allowed the use of masks following the health authority indications or surgical masks or masks without the CE marking.
12. Measures to be taken in case of suspected contamination
a) isolation for fourteen days since the last exposure;
b) no social contacts;
c) no trips or travels;
d) obligation to be reachable for monitoring.
13. Measures to be taken in case of appearance of symptoms
a) immediately inform the family doctor or paediatrician and public health operator;
b) wear the surgical mask provided at the beginning of the health procedure and stay away from other family or household members;
c) stay inside your room with the door closed, guaranteeing an appropriate natural ventilation, waiting to be transferred to the hospital, if necessary.
CONSTRUCTION SITE WORKERS
· Regularly monitor personal and family health status, periodically checking the temperature. In case of flu symptoms, such as cough, cold, sore throat, fever above 37,5° C etc., stay at home and immediately contact the family doctor and/or the authorities;
· Often wash hands thoroughly with water and soap for at least 60 seconds, as per official guidelines. If water and soap are not immediately available, a hand sanitiser can also be used. Use disposable paper towels;
· Avoid close contact with individuals showing symptoms of a respiratory disease (such as cough and sneezes);
· In case of social contacts, maintain a distance of at least 1 meter;
· Avoid hugs and handshakes;
· Avoid touching nose, eyes and mouth, unless hands have just been washed;
· Sneeze or cough in a paper tissue - or covering the mouth with the arm, bending the elbow -, immediately throw away any used tissue in a closed bin and wash hands with water and soap or disinfect them with alcoholic solutions;
· Avoid sharing bottles and glasses;
· Do not take any antiviral medications or antibiotics unless prescribed by a doctor;
· Clean all surfaces with disinfectant with 0,1% sodium hypochlorite (i.e. bleach) or 70% ethanol (alcohol).
· Use a mask;
· Enter the site avoiding crowds and maintaining a distance of 1 meter minimum;
· Before entering the work place, every employee, directly or indirectly employed by the company, will have their temperature checked, and, if above 37,5°C the employee will not be granted access to the site, will receive a mask and will have to leave the work place. They’ll be encouraged to go home following the “Measures to be taken in case of appearance of symptoms” (as described in the following page);
· Inside canteens or restaurants, bars, etc, sit at the table always leaving an empty seat between each person, both on the side and in front, and always maintain the minimum distance of 1 meter;
· Avoid gatherings when waiting at loading areas or refreshment areas (coffee machine), taking turns instead, and always maintaining the minimum distance of 1 meter;
· Remote meetings are preferable (phone, Skype, videoconference) or, if not possible, outdoor meetings, always maintaining the minimum distance of 1 meter;
· Movements inside the site must be limited to the minimum, particularly only if necessary, following the necessary precautions (safety distance, PPE and avoiding crowds);
· The employee must take care of the sanitation of every device (palmtop, phone, steering wheel, dashboard, clutch, levers, windshield, mirrors, hand trolleys, control panels, work equipment, etc.; shift managers must also sanitise palmtops, phones, desks, mouse, work equipment, etc.) using sanitising products provided by the company;
· Follow all the above guidelines also at home and in private life.
· If possible, use personal work equipment, in order to avoid sharing as much as possible;
· Provide sanitation of personal work equipment at the beginning and at the end of the work shift, using specific products provided by the company. If the equipment needs to be used by more than one worker during the day, every worker will sanitise the equipment before using it;
· Implement periodic sanitation, with specific products, of every shared work equipment, and, generally, every shared surface (i.e. handles, window handles, etc.);
· Implement periodic sanitation of keyboards, mouse, screens and work posts with specific products;
· If applicable, personal usage of vehicles and lifting and transportation equipment (such as MMTs, crane trucks, etc.) is preferable;
· Ensure that all the site vehicles (such as MMTs, aerial platforms, crane trucks) are equipped with cleaning products and disposable paper; if these are missing, immediately inform the person in charge;
· If more than one worker need to share the same vehicles, control panels, dashboard, steering wheel, clutch, handles, etc. must be sanitised before and after every use;
· When using vehicles, constant air circulation inside the vehicle is recommended;
*Almost all the cited guidelines refer to:
“MANAGING THE RISKS OF COVID-19. Operational guide and useful tools for risk management in commercial activities, companies and construction sites” “LA GESTIONE DEL RISCHIO COVID-19. Guida operativa e strumenti utili per la gestione del rischio nelle attività commerciali, nelle aziende e nei cantieri”
Carmine Moretti, Marco Ballardini_ Maggioli Editore
© Copyright 2020 by Maggioli S.p.A.
architetto Nina Russo