Top things to consider when planning a site office
As the UK dusts off its uniforms and starts to head back to work, it’s vital that employers plan their workspaces correctly. This is especially important for those in charge of construction site offices, whereby movement of workers and operating at close quarters will need reviewing in light of social distancing and hygiene measures.
Everything from storage through to health and safety needs to be examined, and comprehensive plans and contingencies need to be put in place to maintain productivity and protection during the pandemic.
A site’s office needs to be safe and secure, but it also needs to serve its workers. This article explores the most vital aspects of planning a site office…
Any self-respecting professional knows the importance of traditional health and safety measures on a construction site. After all, there are many mandatory requirements that sites must follow. In the current climate, however, be sure to update your policies and processes to follow the new regulations surrounding COVID-19 and social distancing requirements.
Such measures include the ‘one metre plus’ rule, which means workers must aim to remain two metres apart, but where this isn’t possible, at least one metre minimum. It also includes the added encouragement of frequent handwashing, so keeping handwashing stations at site entrances and exits is a must.
Alongside this, it is encouraged that construction sites introduce:
- One-way systems
- Limited numbers in canteens
- Limited numbers in workspaces
- Limited numbers in drying facilities
- Staggered starts and finishes
Of course, requirements and advice regarding COVID-19 are changing as the virus does, so it is important to keep up to date. The Construction Leadership Council has outlined a comprehensive list of measures.
Even outside of a pandemic, the importance of site office security cannot be understated. Theft is an ever-present concern, and the risk increases during times where we may be focused on other things – such as a lockdown.
Thieves often target site offices during weekends or long periods of downtime, and given the current situation, extended periods of low activity can happen at any time.
Site offices often store valuable items and documents, so keeping them secure is a necessity. Many site offices utilise a storage container for rent to use as their workspace – these are durable, cost-effective, and offer a high level of protection for stored objects.
Protection from the elements
Sometimes, bad weather can make areas of a construction site unusable. In these instances, a site office can still operate as normal, and you’ll need to make sure it is weatherproof to do so.
Along with security perks, using a steel storage container site office for weatherproofing is an added bonus. It can keep your site office operating in poor weather as well as keeping equipment dry and safe. With this in mind, you can keep your offices open and operating under COVID-safe measures without the weather slowing progress down.
Information and equipment
Certain information is necessary to be displayed in a site office, as per the Health and Safety Executive’s requirements. Failure to do so could see a business subjected to large fines.
A site office must also have a first aid kit to hand, and it must be both fit for use and easy to access. By keeping it in your site office, you can ensure it is dry, secure, and safe.
Site offices also need to include documents such as:
- Induction forms
- Health and safety policies
- An accident log
- Risk assessments
- Construction phase plans
- Method statements
- Training records
- Work permits
- A site register
Of course, a site office will also need fire extinguishers – preferably more than one placed in different areas.
Given that the site office acts as the central hub of a construction site, it is the perfect place to put up important signage that will support workers. It is also the best place for your sign-in device or system, as it can be kept safe and is easy to find here.
Put up a notice board here to make sure everyone can stay up to date with the latest rules and regulations – this is especially important right now when processes and government advice may change quickly in response to the pandemic. Speaking of which, keeping extra supplies of PPE in the site office is a good idea, as it will be needed when visitors are permitted on-site.
A site office should also include amenities for your workers. Examples of this include shower units, toilets, and drying rooms. This means everyone has what they need all in one hub.
You should also take visibility into consideration. A site office with double-glazed windows will allow people in the office to observe the rest of the site while keeping internal conditions comfortable.
Taking all these factors into account, along with updated COVID-19 advice, will keep your reopened construction site ticking over like clockwork while keeping everyone safe. By implementing these measures now, the hope is that construction sites will be able to operate and not be subject to another lengthy lockdown.
While it is clear that COVID-19 has been not just a societal threat but also a matter of risk management, employers must again look to how businesses will safely reopen in line with the Government’s Working Safely During Coronavirus guidance to ensure that they are COVID-secure. To help you navigate the confusing and fast-changing regulations, guidance and legislation – get your free copy of the April 2021 Legislation Update.
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