It is a strange experience that we feel, now, a stage of “lockout” which is universal. We heard about the lock out of the industry, lockout of the mills, but lock out of the country for the first time. In a way, we should be happy, that we live in this time, to enjoy, hate, to appreciate the industrial silence, and home happiness. In the real sense, it is a rejuvenating system, to think of yourself, and also the future plans. One should not waste this period, in simple slumbering, murmuring about the situation, rather think of beautiful future plans, which will be worthwhile. It is not difficult, but I need a mind to do it.
The construction companies are facing a lot of difficulties, since it involves, product of raw materials, movement of materials, and apart from this a Human element called Laborers. The laborers are the key factor for many intricate operations of even the machinery, and without them nothing is possible, as a person is necessary to “on the switch” and “off the switch” when there is derangement or closure of the work. What coronavirus had an impact on these issues? Is it artificial or real? Let us think and discuss that. Once the labor population gathers, it is usually difficult to control them regarding their habits, especially about the prophylaxis of Corona, which may extend further in future also for a long period, as it is expected.
Even though the storm is over, there may be sporadic situations where corona death may ensue, and it is difficult to have a judgment on these issues, whether the insurance cover is extended to corona death for laborers in construction companies. As on today, the insurance covers only for treatment, and not for demise. How, the insurance company is going to take it as an “accident” or natural event of infection. There comes the logic and interpretation. An illness during working is considered work oriented or otherwise. So far in the law, the infection is not defined as a work hazard. But it became mandatory for the employers to provide adequate security for the laborers, to prevent infection of CoronaVirus, with adequate precaution. Precaution is not the complete security. No one, even Doctors, cannot be aware of the source of infection, as we think only natural portals, like nose, eyes, and throat, coughing, sneezing, touching etc. How many of them do keep up such strict controls, as even a corona affected carrier can touch a welding machine, an axe, and it is impossible to make a clean situation of them, by making them to wash with soap or by application of sanitizers. Anyhow, a general rule of education is mandatory to provide health care education among laborers, by a meeting, and also make them understand that every one is responsible for infecting others. The following may be possible measures on which an industrial or construction companies should follow before they start their work in the near future.
- Maintaining hygiene – All the construction equipment must be washed with or sprayed with a spray gun with 10% Lysol (The Lysol name probably gets its -sol from cresol and its Ly- from lysis, “loosening” or “dissolution”), including the seats, steering, pedals, and other parts especially tyres. All the existing instruments must be sterilized, including the materials, like cement bags, tyres, especially Buckliners, even though they work in dirt, initial and final disinfection is mandatory. The driver’s seat, operation areas, must be sprayed with Lysol, to clean, before everyday operation starts. This is very essential that even if the working part is re-infected, the operator may not get the infection. This disinfection should be conducted religiously every day. It is not certain how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces, but it seems to behave like other coronaviruses. Studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. This may vary under different conditions (e.g. type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment). All the materials used should be sanitized with cresol spray.
- Wearing a mask – it is mandatory especially of N 95 variety. Even though the N95 is prescribed by WHO, it prevents the spread of the infection from the infected source, as well, even if any one coughs in -advertently before another labor, who happens to be within arm’s distance, especially in close networking issues, there is adequate prevention of the infection. It is enough if they wear a cloth mask, it is not proper, as the layer of cloth will not prevent nano particles of virus. But if one can have 3 or 4 layered masks with cloth, that may be permitted to a certain extent, some expert says, but subjected to the legality and WHO recommendations. The mask must be changed every day, which runs expenditure for the company, as N95 mask runs around INR 300 Per mask.
It is not only the mask, but the wearing of masks, and methods of handling it should be demonstrated to the laborers, as they do not know the technicality in it. Only the ribs of the ear coupling should be handled and NOT the face of the mask. Rubbing the hand with hands inside the mask, totally dishonors the dignity of the mask in preventing the infection. One mask per day, will fill the mask with enough dust, and in the afternoon, without touching the front of the mask over a glass surface, dusting away the mask should be done. Wearing of the mask is so important from the employer and laborer side. It is not preventive against the COVID-19, but at least it prevents the spread from a sneezing, coughing corona infected person. The only properly worn N95 masks may prevent the inhalation of COVID-19 virus to a tune of 99%.
Apart from the Coronavirus, wearing a cloth mask should become mandatory like helmet wearing. Some of the diseases of lung like pneumoconiosis, asbestosis, and cement inhalation will result in lung cancer. It is obvious 90% of the laborers are consuming alcohol
- Social distancing – Still it is insisted that there may be a person who does not show any symptom but suffering from corona infection, who will be spreading the disease to others, and if others are not compromised, they will get the infection. It is pertinent to mention that every cough spreads volumes of droplets, (fig), which will infect others. Hence 6 feet social distance is mandatory even in construction workers, and on supervisor should monitor it. Wearing gloves is a must. Corona infected building materials may spread to others, and if by mistake if they touch their face, or ear, the infection will be through. The construction workers should use surface transport with a surface escalator. Surface escalators are available abroad, from a distance of 6’ to 24 feet, which can transport the material from one place to another, like an airport conveyor belt.
- Availability of washable products – Soap, and cleanser must be available at every 6 feet, with every worker to be used by them, including water facilities. There must be a line of water supply created by the contractor, to get the supply of water from one place to another for washing the hands. Old type of conventional face-head closing cloth cover is always best, but should be a two layer instead of one. And it should be either discarded, or soap washed for the next day.
- Keeping away from dust – Only one protection the construction user has, is the fact that they are dealing with alkaline materials, like Cement, limestone, which is against coronavirus. The corona virus has a fatty spiny coat on their surface, which will be dissolved by this alkaline material, which dissolves the fatty layer, and makes the virus to burst. But this is not true when dust is involved. Concrete dealing workers are fairly protected by their alkaline atmosphere of working. But road cleaning, dust cleaning workers are at the risk for coronavirus.
- Maintaining cleanliness – Every worker should be allowed to take a soap bath after their work, and they can wear their brought dress while they go back home. This type of bath room facilities should be provided by the contractors, for the employees to take a full bath, including shampoo material for the head wash.
- Arranging transport amenity with instructions – Procurement of workers from villages should be provided temporarily by arranging their own bus, with sitting distance of social security of 6 feet between the passengers.
ECONOMY AFTER THE CORONA IN BUILDING CONSTRUCTION
There will be a great breakdown in the economy of the construction companies, because of the commitments to the client, slow advance booking, due to general return of life of the public. The public mind now is to come out and live a normal life, then search for a shelter. No one suffered without shelter now, since there was no acute need for it. The fear of infection, fear of death of near and dear ones, makes them not to think about possession of property. The only avenue left for the construction work is government works, which are pending for a long time. High escalation of product cost, demand of wages from the workers, may strain the neck of the construction company.
Here are some of the ways to wean out that anxiety and other associated depressive illness of the builders, from the economic crisis they may meet.
- Meeting a part of the need of the workers, to a base level, otherwise the mental set up of the workers will not allow them to do proper work.
- Government freeness to supply advances to the construction company, and requesting the Govt to settle the bills in advance, so that they can be away from the constraints. There are provisions in the recent law, by the Union government.
- Bank loans, and advances, are plenty, and the Reserve Bank has released lots of concessions in advancing loans, personal loans, which can be made use of to meet the crisis.
- Requesting the Government to advance the building materials on loan, which can be temporarily financed by the Government, from various funds.
- These are important in the sense of Psychiatric disturbances of the builders, which will hamper their plans.
- Step wise payment from the Government, as and then they complete the base work, and permission may be resorted from the Local Elected Members of the Parliament.
APART FROM THIS KINDLY ATTEMPT TO DO THIS:
- When you go to bed do not see the covid News at least 2 hours before, because it will seek your kind. Some of them may create panic in your brain and mind, not allowing you to have healthy sleep.
- Do not attend any phone calls, do not share your difficulty with your colleague 3 hours before the sleep. By doing so, you will receive empathy and sympathy from them and not any financial help. Thinking that your colleague also is suffering is NOT a relief for you.
- As soon as you lie down, have a comfortable breathing exercise, even in a lying posture, concentrating on your breathing, or counting the breathing, without proper time lag. Order your brain to shut all the thinking, as it is a real fact, that nothing is in your hands when there is a natural calamity like this Pandemic. Order your brain to shut their doors of thinking, and do not think of anything, leave your mind blank, looking at the ceiling of your building.
- Stretch your body to your comfort, have a nice fitting pillow, listen to a music like violin, flute, and not verbal.
- Clean your bowel, bladder before you go to bed.
- Have a good cup of milk one hour before you go to bed.
- Do not take alcohol at ALL, to forget the worry.
- No drug can healthily help you to solve your problem.
- Think, sleep induced by drugs, are not productive in your thoughts of business.
Leave the fear of loss, look positively about the problems as it comes, or if at all comes, it may not come at all, and you may have lots of luck that everything will come to your hand positively. By this worry nothing will be achieved. Who thought covid 9 will come, but it came. Many such things will come in life. Worry is not the answer. Be positive!
About the author
Prof. V Nagaraajan is a well-known doctor. He is the director of the VN Neuro Care Center. He is a distinguished Doctor & Professor Emeritus in Neurosciences. He is also Chairman, IEC, Govt. Madurai Medical College, Madurai. He has been a senate member, academic member adviser, drug approval committee member to name a few.