Risk-based approach to Resume work at project sites, activity centres | Sunday Observer

Risk-based approach to Resume work at project sites, activity centres

This article tries to explain the importance of identifying risk groups involved when work recommences at work sites and activity centres, so that the managers can differentiate their approach in dealing with various such risk groups. The initial 2-4 weeks will be the most critical period to manage. Identifying risk clusters and defining rules for each risk cluster will be under the control and discretion of the manager.

The Government in a press release dated May 4, has detailed how it plans to bring back normalcy in public life while curfew will still be in place in Covid-19 high risk districts. It said that public and private sector institutions should recommence work from May 11.

Heads of Government institutions and private sector companies can decide on the number of staffers and workers for duty, with the requirement to follow the work place guidelines published by the Health Ministry. Project managers and activity centre managers of construction companies who plan to recommence work, need to understand the risks involved.

It is of great importance to follow the guidelines published by the President’s Office and Ministry of Health in controlling Covid-19. It is the responsibility of every manager to ensure that his work location will be free of Covid-19.

This article tries to explain the importance of identifying risk groups involved when work recommences at work sites and activity centres, so that the managers can differentiate their approach in dealing with various such risk groups. The initial 2-4 weeks will be the most critical period to manage. Identifying risk clusters and defining rules for each risk cluster will be under the control and discretion of the manager.

Stages of Covid-19 pandemic :- (Source Economic Times, India, 30 March 2020)

Stage 1: The disease doesn’t spread locally- cases reported are usually people who have had travel history to an already affected country.

Stage 2: This is the stage of local transmission- when people who brought into the country transmit it to people they come into contact with, usually friends and family. At this stage, it is easy to trace the spread and quarantine people.

Stage 3: The source of the infection becomes untraceable; this stage is identified by people who haven’t had travel history getting affected by the virus- once here, spread is contagious and difficult to control. Stage 4: Spread is uncontrollable and there are many major clusters of infection all over the country.

Risk periods after recommencement of work

Two risk periods after recommencement of work can be demarcated.

Period-1

• The Government has given an opportunity to people to adjust to recommence work in a new environment after the pandemic.

• This will be an observation period for the health authorities to determine whether stage-2 of the pandemic has been managed well and it has not reached stage-3.

• If it is confirmed after recommencement of work that the country has satisfactorily contained the spread within stage-2, in 2-4 weeks’ time, the Government may relax control measures further, for the country to restore normalcy to a higher degree.

• Very limited public transport will be available.

• This period will end if new clusters are not identified after a period of the last cluster.

• The people and companies should be cautious and observant and should only embark on limited activities with the engagement of limited people.

Period-2

• Companies can restore their operations to previous levels before the pandemic.

• Schools and universities will be reopened.

• All the identified cases have been treated and discharged from the hospitals.

• No further risks to spread the pandemic through local cases.

• Inward airport arrivals will still be sent for quarantine until the global situation is restored to normalcy.

Virus spread cluster analysis

The example is a building site where workers stay in the site premises and staff accommodations are within 1 km radius.

Cluster - 1 is a low-medium risk group comprising company’s and labour subcontractors’ staff and workers. A higher percentage of staff and workers, after they report to work, will stay in company provided accommodations. Only few staffers and workers will travel daily from home. The majority from distant locations go home only once a month during the site shut-down period.

Cluster- 2 is a high risk group which can be managed to convert to a medium risk group. This group comprises security personnel and canteen workers who frequently change rosters and can be in and out of the site frequently. However, the manager can put controls and negotiate with them to contain their workers within the site through negotiations with the security company and the canteen service provider.

There may be shift changes of the security staff. Arrangements need to be made to limit security personnel to a selected number of people who will remain within the site and change their duties rotationally. If this group can be contained within the site, their risk levels can be reduced. However, security personnel will be in contact with unknown people who will come to the site for various reasons. They will be the first contact with such people, who are in high risk category. Hence, special rules should be set up to mitigate such risks.

Cluster - 3 consists of company staffers who visit the site from the head office and the central workshop and the company drivers who will deliver finished products and raw materials in company vehicles. These people are company employees who come to the site in company vehicles. They are expected to follow company guidelines strictly in the control of the pandemic.

Cluster - 4 comprises consultants, their resident staffers, specialist subcontractor staff and their workers. This is a controllable high risk cluster which has higher chances of bringing the virus to the site. They may visit the site, but people who will travel to other locations can get exposed to infected people. The consultant’s representative staffers, who daily travel to the site from other locations, have to be isolated in their site office. When they visit the site with the company’s project staff for inspections, distancing requirements should be followed.

Cluster - 5 comprises people from material suppliers and service providers who come to the site on their vehicles to deliver materials and services to the site. Delivery of reinforcement is one such example. This is a high risk cluster as their behaviours are beyond the manager’s control. People who come to deliver materials to the site, such as drivers and cleaners cannot be expected to have requisite discipline and knowledge to avoid contact with the virus. The documents which they bring to the site with the deliveries can be contaminated. Hence, high level of control needs to be planned for this cluster.

Cluster - 6 consists of people who visit the site for inquiries, people from regulatory authorities and prospective customers. People of this cluster pose higher risks of virus spread due to their unknown nature. Once they report to the security point, the Administrative Officer will be informed and shall deal with them. He will attend to their requirements promptly and briefly without prolonging contact with them. Prospective customers will only be handled by the client’s staff without any possible contact with the company staff. Prospective suppliers will not be entertained unless it will be essential.

The approach in this document is only a concept and not a guideline. Adopting such a systematic approach to identifying and differentiating various risk groups will enable companies to manage virus contacting and spreading risks better and will be able to cut down expenditure if they follow a uniform procedure in dealing with groups belonging to low, medium and high risks. This will enable the manager to focus more on smaller high risk groups with higher intensity and higher effort of control, and use standard hygienic procedures for the low to medium risk groups which comprise the majority population in a project site or an activity centre.

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