While COVID-19 cases are spreading around the world at an alarming rate, if there is one industry that has to maintain a semblance of ‘it’s business – as – usual’, it is the construction industry. It is both impossible to shut down all projects that are underway and imperative that there are healthy construction workers who can continue to contribute to getting the economy back on its feet after the pandemic.
Indi Johal, managing director of MPI Construction, an Omani civil and construction engineering company, says, “‘Safety first’ isn’t just something we say, but what we continuously work towards as an organisation. And right now, our topmost priority is making sure that our workers on site are both safe and aware.”
One of the first measures that MPI deployed was to ensure that all workers have their temperatures taken at the beginning of each workday. If any worker registers an above-normal temperature, he will be directed immediately to a hospital to get tested.
Information regarding the symptoms of COVID-19 has been posted across the worksites, including information on how to wash hands properly and hand sanitisation procedures. Manoj Wijerathne, HSE Advisor at MPI, says, “We have also put up signs prohibiting people from shaking hands, using others’ mobiles, avoiding using landlines, etc. For example, a landline at reception is now to be used only by the receptionist and no one else to prevent unnecessary contact.”
While it is challenging to keep the prescribed distance to avoid contracting the virus on a construction site, MPI has initiated extra cleaning and disinfection protocol across their offices and sites. These include measures like wiping down door handles, elevator buttons and switches, work areas and office automation equipment at regular intervals with anti-bacterial and germ-killing agents which has become the new norm.
At their labour accommodation, the camp officer has the responsibility of making sure that worker health is monitored with extra vigilance for any COVID-19-like symptoms. Wijerathne adds, “The biggest challenge in any organisation is getting top management buy-in when it comes to QHSE, but at MPI, the commitment starts at the top, and we train each and every one to inculcate them with this culture.”