Creating a construction site shut down procedure to keep your site safe and secure during the COVID-19 pandemic
With the Coronavirus pandemic gripping the world, construction sites everywhere will be facing the prospect of closing down for an unknown period of time.
In every industry, a period of extended closure brings with it a long list of tasks and considerations. Businesses need to be able to take a break safely and effectively, whilst ensuring that normal service can resume as quickly as possible once the crisis has passed. It is important that any shutdown period is prepared for thoroughly and with accountability. Having a written down methodology prevents oversights and minimizes liability.
When a construction site shuts down for a period, construction managers have a duty of care to ensure that sites are left safe and secure. Whilst there may not be any visitors on site during the shutdown period, laws such as the UK’s ‘The Occupier Liability Act 1984,’ extends the duty of care of site managers to persons not authorized to be on the premises as well. Ensuring a site has a working Site Shutdown Procedure for these periods is, therefore, paramount. This protects your site and ensures that there are no issues with trespassers during the shutdown period. Here’s our take on the construction site shutdown checklist process.
Here are 10 key considerations when putting together a construction site shutdown checklist process:
We have put together a free process template covering everything in this article:
1 – Risk Assessment
Assess your site for potential risks during an extended close down period. Document when the site will be closed and reopening. List risks to the property, neighbours and trespassers. Ensure that there are key people allocated to take responsibility for any actions required.
2 – Access
Make sure areas that any third parties require access to are safe and free from obstructions. Make sure that the rest of the site remains secure and that third parties know how to assist with this. Document any third parties that may have access during this period and contact them to discuss your plans.
3 – Security
You may need extra security during the shutdown period in order to keep your site secure. This may come in the form of onsite security staff for larger sites, the addition of extra security devices such as CCTV or additional locks and alarms. Conduct a walk through of the site. Ensure all existing locks and hoardings are secure. Display appropriate warning signs across the site. Do you need additional light sensitive, or timed lighting? Finally, check your insurance policy covers the shutdown period and inform your insurers if necessary.
4 – Materials
Consider what materials are being kept on site during the shutdown. How can ordering be minimized prior to shutdown? Document where materials will be stored and how they will be kept secure.
5 – Weather
Check the weather forecast and make plans accordingly to minimize any damage to parts of your site exposed to the elements. Think about how you will close up openings that leave buildings exposed to the weather.
6 – Site Safety
The best way to keep your site safe whilst it is empty is to prevent trespass. Remove ladders that may assist break ins. Hide or remove tools and equipment and lock down anything that can be removed easily. Conduct a site perimeter assessment to look for access points and make them secure, including checking all hoardings and locks. Have emergency contact numbers displayed across the site.
7 – Scaffolding
Ensure that any site scaffolding is safe and access closed off. Set alarms where relevant and remove all unnecessary materials. It is also good practice to have a nominated person responsible for checking scaffolding in the event of high winds during the close down period.
8 – Excavations
Any open excavations should be back-filled or covered over. Consider time frames for new excavations ahead of an extended close down. Schedule a check of excavations to ensure that there is no risk of collapsing.
9 – Fire Risk
You should already have an offsite risk assessment that ensures surrounding buildings are protected from risk in the event of a fire. Add this to your Site Shutdown Procedure and document any specific actions you will take to remove and isolate fuels, combustibles and sources of ignition whilst you are off site.
10 – Documentation
Once you have considered how you will address each of these elements, and any other specific to your site, document and allocate responsibility. Ensure your Shutdown Procedure has time frames can be followed by those leaving the site secure.
How can Method Grid help?
Method Grid is the perfect place to put together this methodology and allow contractors, clients and even relevant third parties to have access to your plans and assist in the safe and thorough shut down of your site. Once your master method for closing down a site is complete you can clone your grid to ensure that any sites you are managing follow the same procedures. You can then use this year-on-year and any other times that your site might be left unoccupied for extended periods of time.
You can try Method Grid for free today by signing up here.
We have put together a free template covering all of the above > Get your free construction site shut down checklist here.
You can personalize this procedure to tailor it to your site and requirements. (This is not an exhaustive document and as such cannot be taken as a full risk assessment for your site.) We hope it helps in someway to make these unprecedented times a bit more manageable and a bit less stressful.