Managing and mitigating risk in construction is at the core of what we do at OAC. Not only is it vital to the success of any project under normal circumstances, even more so during a pandemic. The list of risks during today’s environment seems endless; the unknown brings new challenges we have never seen, some of which we have never thought of.

Identifying the risks to your projects and organization early and planning to stay ahead can make all the difference as we navigate through this time of uncertainty.

As we all navigate the crisis, I will review some of the top risks we see on projects today, that you should consider and prepare for to help aid making an informed financial decision that is best for your organization.

Financial Impacts

When determining the pros and cons of continuing construction or delaying your projects during a pandemic, consider how this may impact your cash flow. The reality is costs will likely impact whether you press on or delay.

Delaying Construction

Putting a project on pause may limit your risk momentarily, but it also brings new threats that are difficult to control or predict. As you consider additional security, there are costs associated with closing and making a jobsite safe during the closure. You may also receive additional mobilization charges for the contractor and subcontractors on site.

Depending on the duration of the closure, you may be looking at labor and material escalations due to current market conditions. Additionally, there could be extended general conditions and costs from both the contractor and subcontractors.

These are just a few examples of the potential financial impacts you may be looking at by delaying a project.

Continuing Construction

Continuing construction during a pandemic has its own set of potential impacts to consider. Start by familiarizing yourself with the contract with your contractor, paying attention to claims and force majeure.

Several projects are working through potential claims related to COVID-19, ranging from schedule impacts, additional cleaning, and personal protective equipment, making several shifts available, controlled access, etc. Whether these claims are valid, or not will all depend on the terms of the contract. The best thing you can do to minimize risk if you choose to proceed with construction is to start conversations with the contractor early and speak often!

Get on the same page and work together to establish an infectious disease response plan. Working together to create a plan for your site will help set expectations and provide clarity to reduce disputes down the road.

Staying Safe On-Site

Minimizing the risk of exposure and protecting the workers on site is one of the most important steps you can take during a pandemic. The last thing anyone wants is to contribute to the spread of infectious disease and put lives in jeopardy.

Work with your contractor to determine the change needed to keep your jobsite safe and clean, workers healthy, and to maintain physical distancing. Document this process and plan for the infectious disease response plan. Encourage your contractor to be specific and detailed; walk the site together, give suggestions, and help make your plan as comprehensive as possible.

To minimize risks on-site, consider the following topics in the site-specific infectious disease response plan.

Site access and egress: Where do people get in and out, how can this be controlled and monitored, how can you maintain 6′ between workers?

Common areas: Remove seats in break areas to increase separation, add graphics and signs to show where people should sit and stand.

Cleaning and Sanitizing: Plan for regular jobsite cleaning, bring on a cleaning agency if needed to focus on high-touch traffic areas.

  • Test common areas at least monthly for bacteria and germs. Adjust your cleaning frequency if needed based on the results.
  • Plan for protecting workers if 6′ of separation is not achievable for specific tasks.
  • Provide adequate PPE for all tasks, including face coverings, gloves, face shields, etc.
  • Ask yourself, could supervision be extended to open several shifts throughout the day/night, reducing the density of workers on-site?
  • Training: How will the plan be communicated to all current and future workers? What ongoing training can you provide?

COVID-19 Site Supervisor: A COVID-19 supervisor is required on all jobsites, to ensure adherence to federal, local, and site-specific protocols.

  • How often will the supervisor perform inspections, and how will the results of those inspections be communicated and corrected?
  • What is the procedure if someone on-site contracts COVID-19?
  • What are other sites and companies doing, and how could we implement this on our site?
  • The list could go on. The term “site safety” is extremely broad, work together with your contractor to determine what makes sense on your site, and how to protect every individual with site safety.

In case you missed our webinar series on the latest updates to site safety, watch it HERE.

Let us know your thoughts, questions, and what changes you’re experiencing in the comments below or by contacting us at [email protected].