Health and safety measures 'slowing down' Cork construction projects

Health and safety measures 'slowing down' Cork construction projects
Picture Denis Minihane.

SOME Cork construction projects are falling behind schedule due to the increased health and safety measures introduced in line with the Covid-19 pandemic but workers are glad to be back on site.

Conor O’Connell is the Regional Director for the Southern Region with the Construction Industry Federation said the general consensus was everyone was happy to be back at work.

“It is early days in terms of the impact on productivity, but we are happy to be up and running and we are currently awaiting further guidelines on public projects.

“There is no doubt it is slowing things down but every project is unique and at different stages and it will have a greater impact on some sites over others.

“There are so many variables in terms of the design of the building and the work ongoing that it is difficult to say what impact the safety guidelines have.” 

Michael O'Flynn, CEO and chairman , O'Flynn group. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Michael O'Flynn, CEO and chairman , O'Flynn group. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Mr O’Connell said that the construction industry has always worn PPE, so the concept of PPE is not new and neither is assessing risks as these are well-established pillars of the sector.

Cork Developer Michael O’Flynn currently has four sites open in Cork along with a number of projects in Dublin.

Ballinglanna in Glanmire is a large housing development that has over 140 people working on site.

Another large housing project in Cork operated by Mr O’Flynn is Clonlara in Kerry Pike which currently has around 80 people working on the same site. The Drakes site in Crosshaven has around 40 workers and Steeplewoods in Carrigrohane has around 22.

Mr O’Flynn said he has introduced a whole range of measures from a tracing log to Covid card checks for all personnel on-site each day.

There are a number of sanitation points across the sites and all areas are cleaned twice a day.

There is also increased signage and awareness around hand hygiene, cough etiquette and the two-metre distancing.

Each site now has a compliance officer, workers take staggered breaks with everyone encouraged to bring a packed lunch and there is just one tradesperson working per house.

As well as this the larger sites have reduced entry points with a security guard at each gate.

According to Mr O’Flynn’s safety officer, there is excellent compliance on-site for these new measures.

“Obviously, everyone is learning as they go and we have tweaked some things on site. There is definitely an improvement on site but as tradesmen were working like this in the period before the site closed so it was easier to reactivate back up in relation to PPE. Visors are working well except in windy weather.” 

The O’Flynn group said there has been a definite settling in period and one major thing they are working on is streamlining the paperwork.

“There is more paperwork and management time on site has increased organising crews and programmes etc for each work location and how many can be in the working area.” The spokesperson for the O’Flynn group said that the new measures are not impacting on time in the smaller sites, but on the larger ones they are having an impact and in Ballinglanna it will add two weeks to the house programme as well as slowing internal works.

As well as adding additional time to certain projects, there has been extra cost involved in implementing the new safety measures from increased safety audits, PPE, security guard and cleaning and sanitation.

A spokesperson for the O’Flynn Group said there was great buy-in from the workers on-site, which made things a lot easier.

“It is very important, if that wasn’t there it would be a very different situation.” --

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