As the UK starts to emerge from the depths of the COVID crisis, it’s clear that some of the changes we’ve seen over the past year are here to stay. Mobile Mini’s Andrew Richardson outlines how to design a construction site office with COVID-19 in mind
With construction sites given the green light to go back to work, it’s never been more important for those in charge of planning a site office to get things right, especially as social distancing and hygiene measures now play a vital role in any successful planning.
From health and safety through to storage, plans must be comprehensive and have contingencies factored in to ensure productivity is maintained and sites stay open during a global pandemic.
A site office must offer a combination of safety, security, amenity, and visibility.
COVID-19 health and safety
Away from the more traditional health and safety measures that is expected on a construction site, there’s a mandatory requirement for sites to follow strict social distancing and hygiene measures.
These measures include the likes of the ‘one-metre plus’ rule, where workers must be either two metres apart, or at least one metre if two metres isn’t achievable, and making sure hand washing stations are present at site entrances and exits.
Along with one-way systems and limiting the number of workers using canteens, workspaces, and drying facilities at once, construction sites are encouraged to introduce staggered starts and finishes.
The requirements and advice don’t stop there, with the Construction Leadership Council outlining a comprehensive list of measures.
Regardless of lockdowns, site offices must be extremely secure. Theft can happen at any time, especially during times where our focus may be elsewhere. Attacks can often take place on weekends or during longer periods of downtime, which is something that could happen again at the blink of an eye in the current climate.
With offices holding essential documents and valuable items, security against both theft and vandalism is paramount. It’s no surprise that many site offices tend to be in the form of a durable steel-storage container — built to function as an office with workspace and other amenities, but also to offer a high level of protection.
Now may be the perfect time to consider purchasing site accommodation or even renting from a reputable provider.
Even when areas of a site are unusable due to bad weather, the site office can operate as normal. Protection against the elements is key for any construction site, and with the security benefits a durable steel storage container site office can offer, the use of one for weatherproofing is a no-brainer.
Not to mention the fact it can keep site equipment dry and occupants — providing they’re following social distancing measures.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) will expect certain items and information to be displayed in the site office. Not having these on display can lead to companies being issued hefty fines.
A site office must be equipped with a first-aid kit that is easy to access and fit for use. Housing it in a site office means it can be kept secure, dry, and in good condition.
“The most up to date COVID-19 guidance will help to create a safe and secure site, while maintaining high levels of productivity”
Documents to be housed include an accident log, induction forms, health and safety policies, construction phase plan, risk assessments, method statements, work permits, training records, and a site register.
A fire extinguisher to use in case of emergencies should also be present, with more than one extinguisher placed in different areas on the site if achievable.
The site office is the hub of activity on the site, and the important signage that will help workers should be on display. A device for workers to sign in and out on should be placed in the office, where it can be kept safe and referenced whenever an emergency arises.
The site office is also a logical place to display a notice board to make sure team members are up to speed with rules and regulations of the site. Spare PPE should also be safe and dry, so it can be used by visitors when they are permitted to come on site.
The right amenities for workers should be close by their workspace. Portable drying rooms, shower units, and toilets are vital considerations when planning the site, so that employees have everything they need in one centralised hub.
Visibility is also important. Double-glazed windows that allow occupants to see the rest of their site is an excellent way to achieve good visibility.
All the considerations mentioned, especially the most up to date COVID-19 guidance, will help to create a safe and secure site, while maintaining high levels of productivity.
The hope now for sites that already takes these factors into account is that they can continue to operate without another lockdown.
Mobile Mini is the UK’s largest supplier of storage containers, providing site accommodation and secure storage solutions.
Main image: Robert Kneschke/Shutterstock