The government has urged the construction industry to try to keep going during the coronavirus pandemic to try to assist in keeping the UK economy going.
According to Cast Consultancy’s report The Coronavirus Impact: A New Paradigm, as of mid-April 2020, it has been estimated that only 30% of general construction sites are open and that productivity on those sites is as low as 20% of planned total work output level per day. In the housebuilding sector, it is estimated that only 20% of sites are open.
Those contractors and developers that have continued work onsite have put stringent measures in place to try to create a safe working environment for their work force.
The industry has certainly been challenged, however for offsite construction the adaptation of the working environment has been an easier transition than a traditional construction setting.
The manufacturing environment allows for greater control with the ability to be far more stringent to ensure safety procedures are being followed. The simple nature that all construction work is carried out on a production line that is highly visible to supervisors is the first and most important benefit to oversee activity, something that cannot easily be monitored on a construction site with multiple levels and areas.
A production line allows for a fixed position for an operative to work with the ability to space out pods or modules as far as is needed. The nature of a bathroom pod production line for example allows for one trade person per pod which in normal circumstances is generally how pods are manufactured due to the limited amount of space within the pod, more than allowing for the safe social distancing regulations.
The process of offsite construction is also highly controlled, even down to knowing which operative is doing what task in what pod at what time, so a working day can be planned to again ensure social distancing is adhered to.
Footfall one-way systems can also be easily implemented and managed to ensure that operatives do not pass each other and breaks and break spaces can be made dedicated to individuals.
Offsite construction has again shown that it is an easier environment to manage than a traditional construction site and it is adaptable with ease where few external factors can hinder its process.