With the current Pandemic causing masses to hoard everything from bottled water to toilet paper, many construction professionals are wondering how their industry will be affected. Though things are in a very uncertain moment in history, many pros believe that for construction workers, it may be best to just wait and see. The construction industry is often unpredictable with workers used to slow-downs and rush jobs. So they may be better equipped for situations like this than those in other industries.
Shut-downs & Shortages
For instance, with schools shutting down, teachers and faculty are now at home wondering when life will return to normal. Grocery store employees are working harder than ever, some around the clock and still the shelves are empty. Numerous sporting events have been cancelled. Concerts and all activities where there would be large gatherings have been cancelled.
It seems like the sense of panic has become just as devastating as the pandemic itself. The public’s reaction has made things much worse. However large a construction company is, contractors simply don’t have the power to predict the future. At the moment, the best idea seems to be to simply move forward at a snail’s pace and see what happens. Many experts are saying to just slow down, take it easy, and see where things go.
How Long Will It Last?
All agree that we haven’t yet seen the full fallout from the effects of COVID-19. It may take some time and there will be some bumps along the way. The good news is that things in China, where the virus first began, are returning to normal. The Chinese government has contained the virus and it is no longer spreading. There’s every reason to believe that other countries will do the same. They’ll put the proper measures in place to stop the spread of COVID-19 and it will be contained. Then, life will gradually return to normal.
In spite of the fear and panic, contractors are still responsible to get their projects completed by the terms of their contracts. Though some contracts do have a clause for unforeseeable acts of God, many do not. And this places contractors in a precarious position. They don’t want to put workers at risk, yet their projects must be completed.
Employee Safety First
Naturally, it goes without saying that employee safety must come first. No one should put workers at risk. This is a good time to remind all workers to wash their hands several times per day. Good personal hygiene is a must. Instruct workers about how to properly cover their faces if they cough or sneeze. If everyone observes these simple precautions, then there shouldn’t be any cause for alarm.
All agree that there probably will be some material delays, especially for items shipped from China. The Chinese government has worked hard to contain the virus but this has slowed down or shut down production in dozens of their cities. For all types of construction materials, as well as common everyday items we all use, there may be shortages and delays in getting products. Some of the areas that will be affected include smartphones, computers and all their components. This will eventually lead to higher prices.
Life in Seattle
Seattle has been hit hard with recent deaths and the closing of many businesses and schools. Mandi Kime, who heads up the Associated General Contractors of Washington Safety, recently organized a Toolbox Talk to allow its members to discuss what’s happening. During that talk, everyone was reminded to use good hygiene.
She comments: “The basic principles of avoidance that we used for the H1N1 flu outbreak over 10 years ago applies to this situation. My goal is to reduce hysteria and share facts.”
Hysteria & Anxiety
In a recent poll from the popular Construction Dive website, 68 percent of respondents said that “employee anxiety” was their top concern. It ranked even higher than the likelihood of government shutdowns and material shortages.
Despite the uncertainty at the moment, there’s every reason to believe that US health officials will handle this outbreak with intelligence and precision. Health workers will do their jobs. It’s just a matter of time before the COVID-19 threat will be contained and life will return to normal.