Health & Safety in a Construction Environment – COVID-19

Health and safety protocols in construction are now more important than ever. COVID-19 has changed all our lives, the construction industry is no different. We also have to recognise that some of those changes may be here for some time.

Anyone who has worked in construction knows you have to be ready for unforeseen occurrences. The construction industry has one of the highest rates of fatalities across all industries. Due in part to workers contending with the elements, heights, heavy machinery and the unfinished nature of building sites.

So, this industry has in recent years had to implement guidelines and take precautionary measures to keep people safe in the workplace. Massive changes and progress have occurred in occupational health and safety in the last decades. More than any other industry, construction is well-placed to implement COVID-19 guidelines.

The Importance of Health & Safety in Construction

Construction needs good health and safety protocol more than any other industry because the industry can present more hazardous situations. One of the most important things you can do before any big piece of planned work begins is to assess the risk.

Identifying potential hazards will help control risk and help you in planning, organising, controlling, monitoring and reviewing health and safety protocol throughout the life of a project. When implementing COVID-19 health and safety protocol you use the exact same common-sense strategies you use to establish any other guidelines.

Global public health strategy has tended towards limiting person-to-person contact or through social distancing as well as the use of masks to mitigate risk further. Also, public health directives have emphasised hygiene and handwashing regularly. With these three core components in mind. It’s somewhat easier to come up with possible solutions for a safe and healthy building site that operates under COVID-19 guidelines.

The most important thing to consider is who should go to work. You must plan to have minimum people on site. Of course, this will slow progress, but reducing site workers to a skeleton staff is the best COVID-19 safety protocol. This can be done by staggering shift patterns and working out how to accomplish the most with the least amount of people.

List of Construction Site COVID-19 Guidelines

  • To accomplish a reduced work schedule—where small numbers of your crew will be coming in for reduced amounts of time, it’s important to have good lines of communication open with your staff. With a pandemic, you never know when plans must change.
  • The reduced amount of workers facilitates easier social distancing.
  • Availability of hygiene stations, sanitisers, changing rooms, showers and perhaps even a laundry service for dirty work clothes are all necessary.
  • This hygiene also applies to consistent cleaning of the workspace. This means sanitising the space before opening.
  • There should also be a cleaning procedure for all shared equipment.
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) should be worn at all times and the wearing of it should not mean that social distancing can be sacrificed.
  • A system for dealing with inbound and outbound goods also needs to be established. Hygiene for inbound goods as well as establishing one person and point of contact for delivery drivers.
  • Training and instructions on all these things must be provided to every staff member.

Health & Safety Risks in Construction

We know that there are health and safety risks in construction. Pandemic or no pandemic, an important aspect of risk assessment in a construction environment is to identify all the hazards in the workplace.

Any health and safety in construction officer will tell you to walk around the site and assess all the dangers. Hazardous materials, hazardous equipment, risky activities (jobs performed on a height) and anything that could injure your staff. We’ve put together a list of tips if you need to put together a health and safety protocol report:

  • Read all the equipment instructions.
  • Read all data sheets for chemicals and substances, all the guidance for it.
  • Collect, collate and study all accident reports.
  • Account for non-routine operations like cleaning, maintenance or changes in production cycles.
  • Long-term hazards also need to be taken into account like noise exposure.


We all know how difficult this time has been. However, thus far the construction industry has been able to facilitate these protocols when allowed to.

The hope is that restrictions will be lifted to allow the construction industry to continue. We need constant, vigilant enforcement and reassessments of COVID-19 health and safety in construction guidelines. This can ensure that one sector of society continues even if it is subject to restrictions.

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