By Gerhard Roets, Construction Health & Safety Manager, Master Builders Association North
Identify Covid-19 suspects: access control on construction sites
Screening will be conducted on all employees, visitors and contractors requiring entry to the workplace. Before entering the work premises, employees should be alerted that if they are coughing, have a fever or flu-like symptoms, they should please not enter the workplace.
Screening will be controlled by security personnel who are properly trained in doing the screening procedure. All security personnel who will be involved in the screening of employees, also require screening before the start of their shift. A temperature check will be conducted on all employees entering the workplace.
A daily symptoms questionnaire will be completed by each person entering the site. If a screening question is answered yes, or if their temperature is abnormal, access to the workplace should be denied and the person should be managed.
Managing of Covid-19 suspects
The employee should be refused entry into the place of work. A referral slip will be given and the employee will be asked to consult with their own health care provider. The name, surname, contact details of the employee and the contact details of a next of kin should be obtained and recorded in the referral record, prior to the employee leaving the premises.
The responsible manager should be immediately informed, and a mask should be provided to any symptomatic person before they are referred to their own health care provider. An employee will not be allowed back onto site until a medical evaluation of fitness is issued by an OMP or doctor.
Employee confirmed to be Covid-19 positive
Following the identification of a sick employee while on site, all potentially contaminated surfaces (where the Covid-19 positive person worked) should be cleaned with a 70% alcohol-based cleaning liquid, eg floors, walls, contact surfaces and large equipment.
Sanitise contaminated instruments as per usual protocols – cleaners need to wear protective PPE and wash their hands after handling any potentially infected material. All cases are to be reported to the NICD (National institute of Communicable Diseases SA), Department of Employment and Labour and DOH (Department of Health).
The employee will be required to self-isolate for 14 days. It is essential that the responsible manager maintains regular contact with all employees in quarantine or isolation.
Challenges faced by the construction industry
These include delayed entry onto site and the honesty of employees, visitors and contractors when completing the daily symptoms questionnaire. Additional resources to manage Covid-19 include appointing compliance officers; PPE; paperwork and filing monitoring; costing; and training and inductions.
Best practice recommendations
Indicate to all employees that the company has their best health interest at heart. Internal company policies, procedures and declarations must adhere to Covid–19 sick leave and disciplinary policies. Regular online meetings should be held to discuss the latest legislation, challenges and recommendations (PC to liaise with construction managers and H&S officers). Adhere to the basic Covid-19 preventative protocols and provide awareness training.