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SOPs and Guidelines for Construction Sites for COVID-19 Outbreak!

A new Standard Operating Procedure [ SOP]  is issued amidst the current phase of the pandemic for ‘local transmission and limited community transmission. This SOP is applicable to the current phase of COVID-19 pandemic in India (local transmission and limited community transmission). For construction sector, NAREDCO, under the guidance of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) and Govt. of India, has defined the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and guidelines to ensure safety of construction site workers.

NAREDCO has earlier seeked $200-300 billion economic package from the government; Requests government to lift ban on work at construction sites. Stating that the COVID-19 outbreak is ‘unprecedented’, housing and urban affairs secretary Durga Shanker Mishra has said that the government will soon bring out guidelines and regulatory measures to help the real estate sector in dealing with the crisis even as the real estate developers’ body NAREDCO has sought a $200-300 billion economic package from the government and has asked it to lift the ban on work at construction sites. Soon after that the new guideline came in to stop the rising case of coronavirus as well as maintain economic stability as well as everything is at halt.

General guidelines for Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and guidelines for Construction Sites for COVID-19 Outbreak

The guidelines have been divided into three sections namely, applicable for all, for workers, and for materials, tools, machinery, vehicles etc.

Guidelines Applicable for all

  • All Protocol including Emergency Response will be laid out. Identity Cards will be issued to everyone entering the site area. Periodic tailgate sessions will be arranged to review site protocols in view of highly dynamic scenarios ensuring social distancing norms.
  • Mandatory Thermal Scanning of everyone entering and exiting a construction site will be done for fever with thermal scanners.
  • Provision for hand wash & sanitizer (touch free recommended) will be made at all entry and exit points and common areas (including at distant locations like higher floors). Everyone will be required to wash & sanitize his/her hands before entering the site. Same procedure to be followed after exiting the premise.
  • Everyone entering the site area should mandatorily wear a face mask.
  • Hand gloves should be used by the workers who are handling material coming from outside
  • There will be a strict ban on Gutka, Tambaku, Paan etc. on site and spitting shall be strictly prohibited.
  • Food should be consumed at designated areas only ensuring social distancing.
  • Post lunch, waste should be disposed of by individuals in designated bins and the area should remain clean.
  • Entire construction sites including site office, labour camp, canteens, pathways, toilets, entry / exit gates will be disinfected on a daily basis.
  • Housekeeping team should be provided with necessary equipment.
  • There will be a total ban on non-essential visitors at sites.
  • Hospitals/clinics in the nearby area, which are authorized to treat COVID-19 patients, should be identified and list should be available at Site all the time.
  • A doctor will be present periodically (at least once a week) at site on allotted time for any medical assistance.
  • Appropriate signage at construction site spelling out safety practices in the language which is understood by all.
  • For any confusion, clarification and update, everyone should approach designated authority or rely on an authentic source.
Guidelines

Guidelines for workers

  • On day 0, before resuming the work on sites post lockdown period, mandatory medical check-up will be arranged for all workers.
  • The workers coming from outside should observe home-quarantine for at least 14 days as per the guidelines issued by MoHFW.
  • Only medically fit workers will be deployed at site and medical assistance will be arranged for unfit workers.
  • A unique photo identity card with serial number will be issued to all the workers and their family members staying at site.
  • All the essential items will be made available to them at site only. If necessary, they can go out wearing face masks, after informing the supervisor.
  • No outside worker will be allowed to stay at site without following proper procedure and instructions.
  • Start time on site will be staggered to avoid congestion at the entry gates.
  • As in most cases, workers reside at the Sites, hence no travel arrangements are required for them.
  • The workers staying outside (which are always nearby) should reach the site either by walking or by their individual mode of transport (bicycle, two-wheeler etc.).
  • During attendance, training and other sessions, social distancing guidelines will be followed along with provision of no-touch attendance.
  • All workers may be advised to take care of their own health and look out for respiratory symptoms/fever and, if feeling unwell, should leave the workplace immediately after informing their reporting officers.
  • They should observe home-quarantine as per the guidelines issued by MoHFW and should immediately inform the nearest health centre or call 011-23978046.
  • Workers should not shake hands when greeting others and while working on the site.
  • Mandatorily wear face masks while working on site. While not wearing masks, cover your mouth and nose with tissues if you cough/sneeze or do so in the crook of your arm at your elbow.
  • Avoid large gatherings or meetings. Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance from persons, especially with those having flu-like symptoms, during interaction.
  • Not more than 2/4 persons (depending on size) should be allowed to travel in lifts or hoists.
  • Use of the staircase for climbing should be encouraged.
  • Workers should clean hands frequently by washing them with soap and water for at least 40 seconds.
  • Workers should not share their belongings like food, water bottles, utensils, mobile phones etc. with others.
  • The utensils should be washed properly post use at designated places.
  • Post work, workers should change their clothes before leaving the site and clothing should not be shook out.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
Guidelines

Guidelines for Material, Tools, Machinery, Vehicles etc.

  • At all points of time, easy access to parking should be ensured since public transit is limited.
  • All vehicles and machinery entering the premises should be disinfected by spray mandatorily.
  • All construction material arriving at site should be left idle for 3 days before use to ensure safe usage.
  • Non-touch garbage bins with biodegradable garbage bags should be installed for waste collection at all common access areas.
  • Wipe down interiors and door handles of machines or construction vehicles, the handles of equipment and tools that are shared, with disinfectant prior to use.
Construction Sites

Conclusion

Apart from guidelines of Standard Operating Procedures  a Site Safety Representative (SSR) will be deployed at every site, to ensure the safety guideline is followed. Necessary training will be given in advance to Supervisors and SSRs, so that they can train the workers further.

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