COVID-19: Speller Metcalfe response
When the UK went into lockdown, Speller Metcalfe followed suit by temporarily pausing operations on the 24th March, focusing our priorities on reducing risk to our site teams and supply chain and in the national interest of preserving life.
While the government encouraged construction sites to stay open, this bold step was a necessary one, enabling us to ensure we could individually risk assess all our projects, put enhanced safety measures in place and give confidence to our project teams that they could return to work in a safe environment.
Subsequently, a comprehensive suite of enhanced risk assessment documents was produced as part of the audit process to assess what works could be carried out safely, with schemes deemed ‘critical’ (majority NHS) risk assessed as a priority.
In the event that individual sites could demonstrate clearly that operations could be resumed safely, and in full compliance with the Construction Leadership Council & government guidelines, the majority of our projects had resumed activity by the start of May, with all sites reopened by the start of June.
Initially this included working with a reduced workforce to help ensure social distancing, as well as Speller Metcalfe making a significant investment of close to £20,000 on PPE alone.
“A lot of work has gone into ensuring that our site environments are as safe as they can possibly be and as a Board of Directors we are all incredibly proud of the teamwork approach that has been taken to revising our ways of working and in implementing the new social distancing guideline,” said Adrian Speller, technical director.
Speller Metcalfe now has a dedicated COVID management team, who continually review updated guidelines, individual project risk and communications, and have put in place a series of COVID management procedures. These include detailing processes for live sites, response in the event of secondary lockdown, restart procedures, mothballing and risk assessments – among others.
Specific on-site measures include (but not limited to):
- Anyone entering site required to sign a ‘Fit for Work’ form;
- Coronavirus induction and regular toolbox talks;
- Segregation areas for anyone suspected of having symptoms, followed by immediate self-isolation;
- Opening sites earlier for split shifts;
- Works completed by one person, or two people working the requisite distance apart. Where this cannot happen works will be completed in short duration using the appropriate PPE, in line with CLC guidelines;
- Video call project team meetings;
- Enhanced cleaning regimes and increased handwashing stations;
- Staggered breaks;
- One-way site routes and building user / workforce segregation;
- Workers encouraged to travel separately and provide contacts details to support the NHS Test and Trace programme;
- Daily Activity Briefings (DABs) to ensure regular and ongoing communication;
- Increased communication with supply chain to manage disruption to sub-contract workforce and supply of materials.
Adrian continues: “It has been very heartening to receive lots of messages of praise from our sub-contractors and wider project teams for how Speller Metcalfe has reacted to and managed the health, safety and quality aspects of our sites.”
Below we highlight messages of support following the implementation of these enhanced measures:
“I have found the procedures and site set ups have varied quite a lot from site to site – Speller Metcalfe’s sites have been the best so far, especially Hereford Medical Centre which has got a very good set up currently running.” – Alex Gardiner, D&G Ceilings
“We have a number of projects on site with varying degrees of management styles in place by the respective principal contractors. Speller Metcalfe’s approach to the Hereford Cyber project has been greatly appreciated by the team here and used as a model for other contractors to follow.” – Stephen Crichton, Gleeds
“I would like to make a point that you and your team working at Yeovil should be commended for, with work you have undertaken to cover all measures to fight the COVID-19 virus. Your application and detail to setting out of the site must not be ignored. I feel this period of uncertainty may be with us for some time, and I believe you have set the standard, we feel this will be the way forward in the future. Kingspan look forward to working with you as a principal contractor in the future. We feel our installation team are in good hands.” – Stephen Burke, Kingspan