The upside of the downside.
We have moved from manageably stable, to a world in flux, worked out a work around and begun the arduous process of finding our way back to new normal!
But COVID-19, dangerous, unwanted, painful and tragic as it most definitely is, has in many ways, highlighted the things we need to address, forgot, ignored and avoided and all on a grand scale.
From the weaknesses in planning, to poor oversight, or no consideration, they have bubbled up to the surface demanding a response. What we politely called ‘a culture’ have now become bad habits.
That was the downside.
However, our Caribbean construction industry is fortunate to be constantly on the edge of high stress elements and conditions; the what ifs of our tropical, seasonal environment.
Fortunate, because it keeps us thinking of new ways to make our lives safer, more liveable, more prepared and more manageable, at a reasonable cost.
Add in COVID-19, and we have a new and life altering wake-up call, which has emphasised the space between, how sanitary the conditions are and how a culture of hugs, kisses, gatherings, regional travel, and tourism, is about to reposition itself with some very prominent new rules.
The most seemingly successful COVID response is rooted in discipline, listening to one voice and making strong decisions based on what is lightly to happen with fresh, current experience.
We have stayed cautious and made sensible plans to keeping us alive and well.
Now, in the early stages of release from our hibernation, we are tentatively reopening our countries, reviving our economies, all under new rules.
The construction industry, key to any country’s growth and development, has begun the challenge. Personal protective equipment, sanitisation, building site management, space designation and social distancing are the new mantras.
Large sites with sophisticated building systems, sizeable crews and facilities at scale, are conversant with most of the demands necessary.
They are generally more organised, demarcated and willing to evolve to new instructions. They are used to the long haul and the evolutions which occur in that environment.
But what of the small contractor?
These businesses work the predominance of building sites in our islands. Private houses, extensions, casting, block work, rendering, small and medium carpentry and finishing and maintenance, are all close quarter work, with potential for poor social distancing, site sanitation and security issues and little or no health tracking skills.
Unless we change the approach.
In being willing to adapt, adopt new ways of seeing and doing, fluid to better systems and not being afraid to question or ask, are, in many ways, the evolution, not only of the industry, but of our islands.
Many masons work alone, or require a labourer to turn concrete, render or carry blocks. Carpenters do the same or split the work between two tradesmen. Steel tying and boxing are individual operations.
The solution points to increased organisation by the site foreman, prior to commencement of work, more efficient deployment of individuals and teams and a designated sanitisation crew, to keep all machinery, facilities and wash areas treated and reusable throughout the working day.
Smaller must be as organised, safe, and prepared as big.
Yes it changes the work load, will require more dedicated staff and may be come more lengthy, but necessary.
Small sites should do it more easily than big, from designated sanitisers, better site organisation, self imposed sanitation, distancing, site security and reduced access for the benefit and health of all concerned.
ECMIL has a clear role to play in organised construction.
From simple containerised consolidation of shipped materials, to pre constructed/ welded steel items, anything which can reduce lengthy contact or resolve difficult, trade intensive work on site, will reduce risk of contagion.
We welcome inquiries which can make the provision of our materials safer and increase ease of use. We accept that there must be new ways of doing and are flexible in how we can best supply our customers and their sites.
Time is exposure. Reduction of operations within a single job, is necessary to build a new language by which the construction industry gets done, while never compromising safety and the wellbeing of those who do it.
Whether you are an individual contractor hiring per job, or a fully fledged operation, working on lengthy contracts, ECMIL can work with your new found systems to assist your workflow.
Call our sales representatives today and discuss how we can fight down the COVID-19 risk together while keeping your project at pace.
With each storm, earthquake and now pandemic, our region’s learning curve increases our resilience, tempers our skills and in this case, brings us together, sensibly apart.
NB. This is a news article for general information purposes only, not intended, at any point, to contradict or supersede official government directives in separate states, throughout the Caribbean region. Please refer to local standards and protocols accordingly, prior to taking appropriate action. As an incentive to the reader, information should be researched and advice sought from architectural and construction professionals, to confirm that the ideas expressed are possible within the building codes of their territory, or within the limitations of their construction's architecture. ECMIL only recommends their own products and third party products which they supply, as part of their company's construction solutions to customers.