CHS FORUM: NEW DIRECTIVES

Herewith the following updated directives and documents circulated :

COVID-19 OHS Directive

We move from Level 5 to Level 4 Lockdown tomorrow, 1 May 2020, and signed regulations have been trending via social media and the government’s SA Coronavirus web page. Follow the link from the COVID-19 tab on the MBA Website.
The MBA has studied these and can confirm that there have been some improvements since the draft Level 4 Risk Adjusted Strategy was published for comment last Saturday. As you know the MBA and the Construction COVID-19 Rapid Response Task Team (CC19RRTT) made submissions on the draft regulations and it would appear that the Public Works Construction Projects may be resuming under level 4.
The Department of Labour and Employment has issued the following directive to reduce or eliminate the escalation of COVID-19 infections in the workplace. Members returning to work under level 4 as well as essential services are advised to ensure that these measures are added to their OHS systems and implemented in the workplace when commences.
Guidelines will be published in due course and will be sent to all members..
Please contact Diona and our MBA Health & Safety Team for support and assistance as you prepare for going back to work. We are here to assist you.
Regards
Greg Steele

Quick thinking to reconfigure product offering safeguards staff salaries

Quick thinking  on the part of Zap Signs has allowed the small Ballito company to manufacture sell  Sneeze Screens to pay the salaries of all their staff in April.

The company has drawn on all skills it uses to produce traditional signage to create an innovative range of Sneeze Screens and decals to assist retailers during the Covid-19 lockdown.

“We have created a range of Sneeze Screens that can easily be installed to protect a company’s staff.  The screens encourage social distancing but also provide a protective physical transparent barrier between counter staff and customers,” says company founder, Lyall Berkeley, who runs the business with his brother Kirk.

The company also produces full colour social distancing floor decals which can assist customers in retail outlets to ensure that the correct social distancing is maintained. Up until now, many outlets have simply used tape strips on floors which has created a great deal of confusion or has been completely ignored by shoppers.

These perspex Sneeze Guards come in three standard sizes – large (front face 600mm side x 800mm high with 150mm side protection panels), medium (front face 600mm side x 650mm high with 150mm side protection panels) and a desktop screen (front face 700 wide x 450mm high with 150mm side protection panels.

Berkeley said that he believed that the pandemic might even have assisted the company to develop a whole new range of PPE products that will continue to be marketed post Covid-19 and could ultimately even help grow the business.

“We foresee that the way we live is going to be very different after lockdown. I’m predicting that most retail outlets where there is face-to-face contact (till-points, banks, nail bars etc.) will show interest as it will protect both staff and clients alike,” he noted.

LOCKDOWN DEMANDS THAT CIPC MUST RESCIND ITS DELAY OF BUSINESS RESCUE FILING

The national coronavirus-related lockdown has put many companies into financial distress, but recent notices from the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) are delaying the business rescue process and in fact fall to be set aside on review, according to law firm Knowles Husain Lindsay Inc.

Many industries including construction, building and civil engineering were already in poor financial shape by the start of 2020, and the sudden lockdown has pushed hundreds of businesses over the edge. Sectors like tourism and hospitality have also seen trading halt almost completely, putting thousands of small enterprises at risk and needing to look to business rescue as a possible means of survival.

“The CIPC wants to suspend and extend certain time periods relating to voluntary business rescue until after the lockdown ends, but it is actually not legally entitled to do that,” says Gavin Schär, director at Knowles Husain Lindsay Inc. “The timeframes are stipulated within the Companies Act, and with good reason; companies affected negatively by the lockdown need to act quickly and without delay when applying for business rescue.”

The notices state that business rescue applications that were lodged at the CIPC before the national lockdown but which were not completed  at the time of the lockdown may not be completed until after the national lockdown has ended. Neither may any new proceedings be started until after the lockdown.

“In our view, the CIPC acted ultra vires in publishing the notices as it lacks the authority to extend or suspend the time periods contemplated in section 129 of the Act,” Schär says. “Under these circumstances, the notices are unlawful and fall to be set aside on review.”

Schär says that section 129 of the Companies Act clearly sets out the process for commencing voluntary business rescue. This includes the  resolution by the board of a company to be placed into voluntary business rescue to be filed with the CIPC and also to the appointment of a business rescue practitioner within five days thereof – of which the CIPC must be notified within two days. These filings may be done by email, and do not require the physical delivery of hard-copy documents, he says.

“Section 223 of the Act states that only the Minister of Trade and Industry, in consultation with the CIPC and by notice in the Gazette, may make regulations concerning the functions of the CIPC, including those relating to the time periods,” he says. “The authority of the CIPC to issue regulations and policy directives does not extend to any time periods that are already set out in the Act.”

Referring to the special regulations related to the lockdown, section 27 of the Disaster Management Act (DMA) allows the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs to make regulations or issue directives to address a disaster – which was done in March and April. Regulation 10 to the DMA makes provision for the Minister of Trade and Industry to issue regulations and directives.

“However, the Minister of Trade and Industry has not issued any regulations or directives relating to the operation of the CIPC during the national lockdown,” he says. “In our view, despite the notices from the CIPC, companies who want to be placed into business rescue are entitled, during the national lockdown, to proceed to file the necessary section 129 documentation via email with the CIPC. The CIPC may not refuse to accept any documents which are filed in this manner.”

Schär warns that unfortunately it may now be necessary for companies wanting to apply for  business rescue to launch an urgent application to Court to set aside the notices.

“A company that is financially distressed because of the temporary national lockdown is a prime candidate for business rescue and must act without delay in applying for business rescue if it wants to increase its chances of being rescued and precisely the type of company that the business rescue provisions are aimed at,” he says. “With the CIPC notices effectively depriving companies of this lifeline at present, we are of the view that there is a legitimate basis to urgently apply to court on an urgent basis to set aside the notices.”

Construction Economic Activity Urgent Notice

Construction Industry Update:
  1. Commercial Construction will operate at Level 3 currently, however we have submitted a motivation to operate at Level 4

 

The government has developed a strategy for the country, provinces, districts and metros to be classified on a 5-level risk scale. Level One being low risk to level five being the highest risk level.  These levels will determine the restrictions in place at any given time.

 

According to the draft strategy, the Commercial construction industry is classified at risk “LEVEL 3”. While residential construction is classified at risk ‘’LEVEL 2’’

From 1 May 2020, the overall country risk level will be moved from level 5 (hard lockdown) to “LEVEL 4”.

 

The Construction industry will therefore for now NOT resume on 1 May 2020 as previously hoped.

As we stand at the moment, the industry start-up will be at “LEVEL 3” and it is unclear when this will occur. See attached document: ‘’permitted good and services movement..’’

We will keep you informed of any changes following our submission below and the way forward.

 

  1. Submission to government to motivate for earlier return to work for Construction Industry

That said, in response to Government’s call for comments (confined to Level 4) pertaining to the proposed five-phase strategy to end the national lockdown, MBA North members were requested to forward their input to the Association to allow for a collective submission on behalf of the membership by Master Builders South Africa to move Commercial Construction from Level 3 to level 4.

We thank our members for comments received. In order to cover a wider submission, the Association included its input with the submission made on behalf of the industry, by the Construction COVID-19 Rapid Response Task Team attached (Comment on the Proposed…).

 

  1. Continued Member Support:

 

We remain focused on our members’ immediate needs and remain available to support members in respect of Labour Relations, Health & Safety, Training and Contractual matters.

 

Please keep following us on Email and on our Website and LinkedIn accounts.

 

Executive Director:

Mohau Mphomela

Comment on the Proposed Risk Based Model for Economic Activity Permitted goods_ services and movement _Distribution Version_ _4_ 20200425

 

Permitted goods_ services and movement _Distribution Version_ _4_ 20200425

TCI INFO CENTRE VITAL CONCRETE REFERENCE SOURCE

The Information Centre, a key section of The Concrete Institute (TCI) in Midrand, is continuing to add to its unique collection of reference material relating to cement and concrete – the largest collection of its kind in Africa.

Established in 1957, the TCI Information Centre operates as a public concrete technology library and is accessible to anyone in South Africa interested in or needing information on concrete topics. It has over the years become an essential destination – both personally or online – for thousands of students as well as practitioners in the concrete and related industries.

The Centre has a vast collection of well over 140 000 concrete-related reference material, including e-documents, books, and journals from across the globe.

Susan Battison, manager of the TCI Information Centre, says the collection includes the latest published American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards relating to cement and concrete, adding to the Information Centre’s collection of South African and British standards.

“The collection of conference proceedings, which are indexed fully on our online catalogue, has also grown and now includes papers on super-absorbent polymers and the rheology of construction materials. Information on construction techniques in precast and 3D printing have also been acquired while South African research by Prof Mitchell Gohnert, of Wits University, on shell structures has also been added.

“The assessment, repair and rehabilitation of concrete structures are also key additions to the collection and augments our material on the sustainability and durability aspects of concrete infrastructure. The publications of international organisations such as the International Union of Testing and Research Laboratories for Materials and Structures (RILEM) and the International Federation for Structural Concrete (fib) are also stocked,” Battison states.

The TCI Information Centre indexes all the journals it receives and provides a monthly list of current contents which can be accessed by emailing info@theconcreteinstitute.org.za with the subject line “Subscribe current contents”.

“Despite revolutionary changes in information technology over the past 63 years, the Information Centre collection has kept pace with the latest trends in information dissemination and remains a valuable resource on cement and concrete information that contributes to the development of sustainable and durable South African infrastructure,” she adds.

The TCI online catalogue is available at http://www.cciinformationcentre.org/ActiveConnect2002/default.html.

COVID-19 Risk Adjusted (Lockdown) Strategy

This has been a rather eventful weekend in the construction industry. Whilst I think we all respect the Government’s leadership in protecting us from the Covid-19 virus we are also extremely aware of the detrimental impact that the lockdown has had on our industry.
Following President Ramaphosa’s speech on Thursday evening, Government released a document called “The Schedule of Services, Framework for Sectors”. It was dated 25 April and invited comment from associations like ours representing business and labour as well as the public. On Saturday morning Master Builders South Africa set about drafting a formal response for submission to the Construction Covid-19 Rapid Response Task Team. A special meeting of our Master Builders SA National Executive Committee took place on Sunday and a final document was submitted to the Task Team late on Sunday evening. The Task Team concluded their document and submitted same to the Department of Co-operative Governance on yesterday within the 12 noon timeframe required.
I would like to thank all our members who contributed to the submission in response to a request that we sent out on Sunday. Your contributions were very helpful in framing our submission to Government.
Having contributed significantly to the national submission, the East Cape MBA also decided to send its own submission in parallel to the national one. Copies of both submissions are attached hereto for your information below. Our submission has also been circulated to many of the provincial and local Government authorities in the Southern & Eastern Cape for information and possible future engagement.
Again the big question on everyone’s lips is when will construction resume?
In our document we have defined construction as covering all civil engineering and building construction and have essentially proposed that all projects that were active on 26 March be allowed to resume under level 4 of the Covid-19 risk adjusted strategy. This would be subject to strict Health & Safety protocols and provisions for Social Distancing requirements.
The Government has apparently received over 60 000 submissions and it therefore remains to be seen exactly what their decision will be and which sections of construction will be allowed to resume on Monday, 4 May 2020. We await the outcome of our submissions and are preparing ourselves to support those sections of the Construction Industry that will resume next week. We will keep you posted.

COVID-19 Risk Adjusted Strategy – Public Comment

Ministers Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and Ebrahim Patel, Ministers of Cogta and Dti briefed the country on the classification of industries as part of the Covid-19 risk-adjusted strategy on reopening of the economy this morning.
The briefing served as the official launch of the Risk Adjusted Strategy and was for public comment and consultation.
The MBA has been participating in an initiative called the Construction COVID-19 Rapid Response Task Team (CC19RRTT) which was spearheaded by Master Builder South Africa and has made significant input towards a safe and responsible return to work for the Building Industry as well as submissions regarding allowing sections of our industry to operate as essential services. Please also refer to previous articles on our website.
There has been much speculation as to which “Alert Level” will apply to construction. Government has initially introduced some manufacturing as well as sections of civil construction under Alert Level 4.
Minister Patel said that some parts of construction are currently at work. Under Level 4 he mentioned the manufacture of cement, construction materials and hardware could resume. He also mentioned civil construction on public works projects like roads and bridges.
It is important to note that this remains open for public comment and consultation and we will be consulting with government on behalf of our members and the Industry. Companies or individuals are therefore well within their rights to submit their own comments by 12:00 on Monday 27 April 2020 in the prescribed manner.
All information is included in the document which can be downloaded by following the link below

CONSTRUCTION SECTOR SHORT TERM PLANS FOR IMMEDIATE REACTIVATION OF CONSTRUCTION WORK & PRE-CONSTRUCTION PHASE WORK DURING COVID-19 LOCKDOWN

Prepared by: Construction Covid-19 Rapid Response Task Team (18 APRIL 2020)

1. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
The civil and building construction sectors are essential and critical assets to any well-functioning country’s economy and political mandate to implement public and private infrastructure.
The collective built environment industries, consisting developers, built environment professionals, civil and building contractors and their respective material suppliers make up this industry that serves both public and private sectors. They are responsible for the conceptualisation and execution of fixed capital investment in the country.
The industry employs a wide range of role players ranging from highly educated technical experts to wage earning labour. Of great concern during the lock-down period is the fact that the industry, which works on a “no work no pay” basis, is unable to ensure money flow to some of the poorest sectors of society i.e. labour. At the same time critical infrastructure projects are being delayed which will have a knock-on impact on society and the economy.
The Construction Covid-19 Rapid Response Task Team is an informal structure consisting of a wide range of professional representative bodies all active within the development and construction sectors. The Task Team intents to identify practical interventions that can be made by government to support the ailing construction sector.
The proposal contained in this document proposes that certain existing construction sites should be considered for activation during the lock-down period. In addition we would propose that Companies responsible for the planning, costing and design of infrastructure projects who are mostly office bound be considered for activation in the lockdown period so that such work may commence for preparing projects that need to commence for construction during and immediately once the lockdown period has been completely lifted. Restarting these processes are key to ensuring that we are able to get the necessary infrastructure development restarted that both key to kickstarting the economy and ensuring road user safety in the instances where road closures have been necessitated due to road rehabilitation works..
Qualifying sites and Offices will focus on low population density and ease of site and staff control. Office environments will be required to ensure social distancing and limit office population to essential staff on a rotational basis to keep number low as well as ensure the implementation of the usage of masks, gloves and hand washing and sanitising. Many projects whether in implementation or close to implementation stages where final designs and costings in civil, building and electrical construction have been done, should qualify for incremental activation.
Typical sites that may qualify for incremental activation will be sites where site related population densities are low or sites that are currently in a construction phase where less onsite staff are required to implement works. Similarly, the same could apply to Professional Services staff required for the preparation of projects for implementation.
In addition, qualifying construction sites must be easily controllable with limited external access and interface with the public.
Companies with qualifying construction sites wishing to be considered for incremental activation will have to present a suitable operational plan to ensure limited contact between on-site staff, well controlled inter action with suppliers, and the ability to offer ongoing screening, monitoring, tracing and training of staff to minimise the possible contamination with and spreading of the Covid-19 virus. A similar process will have to be required of Professional Service Providers requiring staff to commence with essential planning of projects where a presence at the office or on a site is required, where projects that have been reactivated require levels of site supervision on the part of such Service Providers.
2. CONSTRUCTION COVID-19 RAPID RESPONSE TASK TEAM
The Construction COVID-19 Rapid Response Task Team (“CC19RRTT”) is an industry grouping that has been convened to represent the views of the major associations in the construction sector and its entire value chain covering suppliers, manufacturers, built environment professionals and contractors (main contractors and subcontractors).
The overarching synergy between the various role players is that they are all focused on the survival and reactivation of the full suite of disciplines involved in delivering fixed capital investment projects through the civils, building and electrical construction sector.
The objectives of the CC19RRTT are the following:
▪ To assess the impact of Covid-19 on the construction sector and charter the recovery thereof.
▪ To unblock relief measures for the construction sector to remain sustainable.
▪ To identify infrastructure project opportunities in both the public and private sector.
▪ To address the regulatory matters which unintentionally impede the industry.
▪ To address systemic challenges and fast-track intervention.
Members of the CC19RRT include the following:
▪ Master Builders South Africa (MBSA)
▪ Association of South African Quantity Surveyors (ASAQS)
▪ Western Cape Property Development Forum (WCPDF)
▪ South African Institute of Architects (SAIA)
▪ Black Business Council in the Built Environment (BBCBE)
▪ Consulting Engineers South Africa (CESA)
▪ Association of Construction Project Managers (ACPM)
▪ South African Black Technical and Allied Careers Organisation (SABTACO)
▪ South African Woman in Construction (SAWIC)
▪ The Concrete Institute (TCI)
▪ Cox Yeats Attorneys
▪ Master Builders KwaZulu Natal (MBA-KZN) – Convener
3. LOCAL AND INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVE
Leading data and analytics company GlobalData has revised its construction output growth forecast for sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) in 2020 to 3,6%, down from the previous projection of 6% (Q4 2019 update).
GlobalData has further revised down its forecast for South Africa’s construction output in 2020 to a negative -4,1%. The report further indicates that the negative impact from COVID-19 will compound other challenges, notably high national debt, skilled labour shortages and little infrastructure spending amid a depressed economy.
In many foreign countries (some of which have very high rates of infection) such as the UK, USA, Australia, Germany, China and Italy, construction has been defined as an essential service and allowed to continue under strict health and safety requirements. South Africa is one of the few countries in the world where construction sites have been closed despite low cases of infections in relation to its population. Indications are that the figures of infections emanating from construction activities have been kept very low due to the strict health and safety measures being applied on construction sites in countries listed above.
Spain has recently announced allowing manufacturing and construction to return to work subject to strict health and safety guidelines.
4. NEED TO ACTIVATE CONSTRUCTION SECTOR
The construction sector is a significant contributor to employment and economic growth in South Africa, according to various available data. The construction sector is crucial to South Africa’s economic growth and there is a wealth of data that proves that the construction sector is regarded as an economic multiplier which contributes a significant portion of the country’s GDP and is an enabler of faster economic recovery and growth. The sector also contributes to the labour market; according to Stats SA the South African construction sector employed more than 1.4 million people in the past few years before the current decline.
In 2020 the South African government announced that Public-sector infrastructure spending over the medium-term expenditure framework (MTEF) period is estimated at R815 billion. Achievement of all planned public infrastructure such as roads, housing, water and sanitation etc. requires adequate and effective local professional and construction capacity to successfully implement these projects.
The importance of government supporting the construction sector cannot be overstated. It is vital that the construction sector be declared an essential service in order to facilitate the immediate completion of current projects and to further urgently propose, plan, design and fund a suite of new projects aimed at providing the necessary economic stimulus necessary for providing traction within our economy.
5. ACTIVATION OF CONSTRUCTION SITES
Construction sites aren’t public places and only employees following full health and safety protocols have access. It is important to mitigate the public safety risks associated with unattended construction sites, including damage from weather related incidents, security costs, break-in damage, plant maintenance and stock loss. Furthermore the issue of single lane unfinished roads which had been halted due to the lockdown without road safety management, continue to be a safety hazard to road users, especially other essential healthcare workers who may need to use such roads to travel between home and work.
Some countries with far much more cases of COVID-19 have taken decisions to either relax the prohibitions or declare construction as essential service. In Spain, which has been one of the countries worst affected by the pandemic, more than 300,000 people who work in construction and manufacturing who cannot work from home will be allowed to return, but schools and restaurants will remain shut. Though each country has its own unique socio-economic and health dynamics, the unique South African situation seems to be ideally suited to allow for the activation of construction sites subject to the current construction occupational health and safety regulations to be augmented by additional controls in office environments, not unlike those in the financial services sector, which will ensure that all employees are protected as far as possible.
Should the government’s COVID-19 National Command Team assessment of the spread of the pandemic in the country point to a high risk requiring no relaxation of the lockdown regulations leading to construction not being declared an essential service, the industry proposes that certain existing construction sites should still be considered for activation during the lock-down period. Such sites will have to meet strict health and safety requirements proposed by the sector.
Mining has recently been declared an essential service and operations permitted to resume at 50% capacity. This developmental act has given construction sector confidence in the government’s appreciation of a need to ensure that economy driving sectors are back to operation as soon as it is practically possible to do so.
6. PROPOSED IMMEDIATE SUPPORT FOR THE INDUSTRY AS PART OF INDUSTRY RECOVERY PLAN
The South African construction sector will have an important role to play in rebuilding our devastated economy when COVID-19 lockdown is over. As one of the biggest employing economic sectors, it would play a greater role in re-employing many employees who have and continue to lose jobs both from within the sector as well as in the peripheral supplier industry to the sector.
The employment opportunities provided by the construction industry will assist the countries efforts in cushioning the impact of unemployment during and in the aftermath of the lockdown phase. The industry commits to continued adherence to the provisions of the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) and to realise and maximize opportunities to increase labour absorption in all projects.
Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, the South African construction sector faced significant challenges including lack of work, late and non-payment of contractors and professionals as well as the uncontrolled illegal construction site invasions by syndicated organised crime. COVID-19 has also brought about other challenges such as the immediate stoppage of work, lack of payment for certified work, work impossible to complete, loss of income and manpower, potential litigation issues and business uncertainty to mention but a few.
A number of entities such as Employer organisations and associations provide essential support services to the construction industry in the form of contract documentation and support, health and safety auditing, industrial relations, dispute resolution and training. We submit that these entities also be given essential services status in order to be able to provide these critical support services to contractors. Such operations will also be subject to prescribed social distancing imperatives such as working from home or staff rotation as well as the relevant provisions applicable to other persons presenting on construction sites.
Entities like Construction related Employer Federations / Organisations, Bargaining Councils, the Joint Building Contracts Committee (JBCC), the Construction SETA (CETA) are examples of the entities proposed as essential service providers.
In New Zealand, the construction industry, working together with government, have created a response plan aimed at supporting the construction sector during and post COVID-19 restrictions. This is a strategy that we believe can work well in South Africa given similar challenges faced by our sector.
Below is our proposed recovery plan mainly aimed at government support:
6.1. Maintaining the sector
Required support Result Date
Declaring the construction sector an essential service
Existing and new projects allowed to continue under strict health and safety measures
01 May 2020
Awarding of already priced infrastructure related tenders
All priced tenders to be finalised
01 June 2020
Identify and agree on new ‘shovel ready’ projects that could start when restrictions are lifted
New public infrastructure projects for the next 12 months identified and agreed upon between the sector and government
01 June 2020
Remove barriers to a swift restart including in legislation and allowing for efficiency and flexibility coupled with compliance in Public Sector the Procurement Regulations
Develop emergency procurement and management of the urgent critical projects identified
01 June 2020
Commitment to enforce law against construction sites disruptions (While enacting the law)
No construction site affected by any form of illegal disruption including local so-called business forums
01 May 2020
Require Departments, Municipalities and government SOE’s agencies to pay contractors and professionals promptly or early and ensure that they in turn pay subcontractors promptly
No delayed payment to professionals, contractors and sub-contractors by government and its agencies
01 May 2020
Ensure expeditious resolution of contractor claims and contract disputes through adjudication or expert determination to ensure projects proceed and any withheld payments are made.
Directive to pursue alternative dispute resolution through recognised industry dispute resolution bodies.
1 May 2020
Require private sector to pay contractors and professionals promptly or early and ensure that they in
No delayed payment to professionals, contractors and sub-contractors by private sector employers
01 June 2020
turn pay subcontractors promptly
(gazette prompt payment regulation)
Create construction financial support fund as part of the wider economic relief package by redirecting some of the funds that may be available in the Voluntary Settlement Agreement between Construction Companies and Government.
Funds should be made available to the industry (beyond UIF funding) to ensure that companies that are struggling are assisted with covering their overhead expenses.
Government can assist with the provision of financial assistance to contractors in a form of providing guarantees to material suppliers as companies’ balance sheets are currently severely weakened and this will have an impact on their ability to provide the necessary collateral for guarantees to material suppliers.
The commercial banks and Development Financial Institutions should institute payment holidays on existing loans and credit facilities to allow companies to recover as the majority of industry players are currently unable to generate revenue.
01 May 2020
Commitment to encourage financial institutions to ring-fence funds for construction projects funding
Availability of funds from financial institutions to cater for construction related projects
01 May 2020
Facilitate availability of both local and imported construction material and components required for controlling infrastructure controls and systems integrated into construction elements.
Construction projects should not be affected by lack of material
01 May 2020
7. CURRENT CONSTRUCTION SECTOR SAFETY MEASURES
Construction sector operates in a highly regulated environment. It is already administrated through the Occupational Health and Safety Act no 85 of 1993 and the Construction Regulations 2014. Many employer federations have their own occupational health and safety committees consistently advising members on matters of occupational health and safety. Health and Safety Officers are a permanent feature on Construction Sites responsible for monitoring compliance with regulations, both on the site and upon entry to any site.
Below are key health and safety measures CC19RRTT will ensure are in place post opening of sites:
▪ Keeping contractors informed of all new safety related legislations.
▪ Constant Health and safety presentations, seminars and conferences.
▪ Inform industry and the DEL (department) of relevant incident/accident statistics including costs and recommend preventative action.
▪ Assist and advise contractors on how to improve their safety management programme.
▪ Arrange safety related training courses for contractors and their employees off site.
▪ Assist contractors as and when required with incident and accident investigations and reports.
▪ Submission of relevant reports required from the department etc.
8. COVID-19 RISKS AND MITIGATION PLANS
Despite having and complying with the occupational health and safety laws and regulations, the industry will put additional measures in place to ensure the health and safety of employees on sites. Below are some of the identified risks and mitigation plans to be implemented by all construction companies and built environment professional service provider companies intending to go back to work:
Risk Mitigation plan/action Responsibility
Travelling to work – public transport – exposure to the virus
▪ Office support staff to remain working from home
▪ Contractors to transport staff from a designated place
▪ Where not possible to avoid, use of public transport to comply with the transport limitations
▪ Provide employees with information on the virus and precautions to take during travel ie:
– If possible, maintain social distancing (at least 2 m) between yourself and anyone else when travelling
Contractor
– Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water
– Avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth
– Always wear a suitable face mask
▪ Cancel travel for employees experiencing symptoms of the virus
▪ Regular testing of body temperature
Site access by non-employees
▪ Stop all non-essential visitors.
▪ All employees and non-employees to be screened with non-contact thermometers.
▪ Body temperature check with thermometer upon employee’s arrival as well as departure.
▪ Introduce staggered start and finish times to reduce congestion and contact at all times.
▪ Take body temperature of anybody stepping on or stepping off site
▪ Monitor site access points to enable social distancing
▪ Change the number of access points, either increase to reduce congestion or decrease to enable monitoring.
▪ Disinfectant is to be placed in the trough and all shoes coming onto site or leaving site will be disinfected.
▪ Remove or disable entry systems that require skin contact e.g. fingerprint scanners or biometric system.
▪ Require all workers to wash or clean their hands before entering or leaving the site.
▪ Allow plenty of space (two metres) between people waiting to enter site.
▪ Regularly clean common contact surfaces in reception, office, access control and delivery areas e.g. scanners, turnstiles, screens, telephone handsets, desks, particularly during peak times.
▪ Reduce the number of people in attendance at site inductions and consider holding them outdoors wherever possible.
Contractor
▪ Drivers should remain in their vehicles if the load will allow it and must wash or clean their hands before unloading goods and materials.
Poor Personal Hygiene on sites
▪ Provide additional handwashing facilities to the usual welfare facilities if a large spread out of site or significant numbers of personnel on site.
▪ Provide misting hand sanitizers in all strategic places on site.
▪ Ensure soap and fresh water is always readily available and kept topped up.
▪ Provide hand sanitiser where hand washing facilities are unavailable.
▪ Regularly clean the hand washing facilities and check soap and sanitiser levels.
▪ Provide suitable and enough rubbish bins for hand towels with regular removal and disposal.
▪ Sites to have extra supplies of soap, hand sanitiser and paper towels and these will be securely stored.
▪ Non-compliant employees will face disciplinary action in order to safeguard
Contractor and Employees. Applicable in part to Off Site Office based work being done by Professional service providers as well
Unhygienic facilities such as offices, toilets, canteens etc.
Toilets:
▪ Restrict the number of people using toilet facilities at any one time.
▪ Employees to wash hands before and after using the facilities.
▪ Enhance the cleaning regimes for toilet facilities particularly door handles, locks and the toilet flush.
▪ Portable toilets should be avoided wherever possible, but where in use these should be cleaned and emptied more frequently.
▪ Provide suitable and enough rubbish bins for hand towels with regular removal and disposal.
Offices and canteens:
▪ The workforce should also be required to stay on site once they have entered it and not use local shops.
Contractor and employees
▪ Dedicated eating areas should be identified on site to reduce food waste and contamination.
▪ Break times should always be staggered to reduce congestion and contact.
▪ Hand cleaning facilities or hand sanitiser should be available at the entrance of any room where people eat and should be used by workers when entering and leaving the area.
▪ The workforce should be asked to bring pre-prepared meals and refillable drinking bottles from home.
▪ Workers should sit 2 metres apart from each other whilst eating and avoid all contact.
▪ Where catering is provided on site, it should provide pre-prepared and wrapped food only.
▪ Payments should be taken by contactless card wherever possible.
▪ Where only cash can be used, the usual hands cleaning and with sanitizers and soap should be observed.
▪ Crockery, eating utensils, cups etc. should not be used.
▪ Drinking water should be provided with enhanced cleaning measures of the tap mechanism introduced.
▪ Tables should be cleaned between each use.
▪ All rubbish should be put straight in the bin and not left for someone else to clear up.
▪ All areas used for eating must be thoroughly cleaned at the end of each break and shift, including chairs, door handles, vending machines and payment devices.
Inadequate PPE
▪ No employee on site without adequate and relevant PPE.
▪ Re-usable PPE should be thoroughly cleaned after use and not shared between workers
▪ Single use PPE should be disposed of so that it cannot be reused
Contractor
Poor ventilation
Increase ventilation in enclosed spaces
Contractor
Site meetings
▪ Only necessary meeting participants should attend.
▪ Attendees should be two metres apart from each other.
▪ Rooms should be well ventilated / windows opened to allow fresh air circulation.
▪ Consider holding meetings in open areas where possible.
Contractor
Tracing of infected employees
▪ The necessary systems will be implemented to trace employees that are infected.
▪ The system will also enable the tracing, identification and quarantining of people who came into contact with the infected employee.
Contractor & Consultants (through government)
9. CONCLUSION
The effects of COVID-19 are dire and pose a huge risk not only to the construction sector but also to our economy. Where we see a possibility to save the sector, its people and its developmental role in our society, such opportunity need not be missed. Post COVID-19 the South African construction sector an integral, globally revered and vibrant part of the South African economy will face a myriad of challenges which has indeed brought it to its lowest point in its history. If nothing is done to revitalise this sector, we will find ourselves having to import the skills and knowledge for the future development of our infrastructure at significantly higher costs, something we can ill afford to allow to happen.
COVID-19 should not be allowed to destroy the construction sector, hence the industry after careful consideration, is committed to working with government towards ensuring that a returning to work will achieve the envisioned economic growth and not play a role in reversing the substantial gains that the county has made in controlling and managing the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus.
Contractors reopening their sites will be expected to provide weekly reports to the CC19RRTT so that the team can assist in making sure that non-compliance and areas of required assistance are identified and dealt with from the onset of any relaxation that is authorised.
We look forward to your quick response and engagement as soon as possible.
John Matthews
Chairperson: Construction Covid-19 Rapid Response Team