Guidelines for a Safe Construction Site Amid the COVID-19 Crisis
By Marcelle P. Villegas
The Philippine economy in general, along with many local infrastructure projects are greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The highly contagious trait of the virus became a source of anxiety and fear in the work setting since safety and life-threatening issues are now at play. For the past months, the construction industry is not only hindered by the strict lockdown rules, but it continues to be affected by the uncertainties created by this crisis.
Due to the virus's contagious and fatal nature, many businesses started reassessing their protocols at the workplace. In construction sites, this reassessment is twice the work since the nature of the projects entails physical labour, team coordination, and is generally a large-scale operation.
The Philippine government has also reassessed several health and safety guidelines to the public to promote social distancing and workplace safety measures.  A product of this reassessment is the Construction Guidelines for Project Implementation during the Period of Public Health Emergency. The guidelines were drafted by a Technical Working Group formed by the Philippine Domestic Construction Board. The objective of the guideline is to provide a safety manual for those working in construction sites amid the pandemic circumstances. 
The guide includes the following topics:
Awareness & communication
Clearing to return to work
Proper work attire
Excerpt from the Construction Guidelines for Project Implementation during the Period of Public Health Emergency:
Background The President declared a state of public health emergency through Presidential Proclamation No. 922 s. 2020 to address the Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) threat, subsequently placing the whole of Luzon under Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) on 16 March 2020...
The construction industry which contributes about 4.2 million workers to the country’s labor force, in anticipation of the lifting of ECQ, is getting ready to return to work and would like to ensure the safety and welfare of people, most especially those of its employees/workers. Construction industry players would like to focus on preventing the occurrence of and controlling the spread of the virus in the workplace, mindful that a single case of COVID-19 can lead to an interruption, if not total work stoppage. The global pandemic has affected livelihoods, lifestyles and industries including the construction industry which relies heavily on human resources. Total work stoppage from the time ECQ was declared has had debilitating effects not just on workers who are mostly project based and therefore paid on a daily basis but on contractors as well, majority of whom or 88% are small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The Philippine Domestic Construction Board (PDCB), an implementing board of the Construction Industry Authority of the Philippines (CIAP), mandated to formulate policies, plans, programs, and strategies for the development of the Philippine construction industry organized a Technical Working Group (TWG) comprised of representatives from contractors of varying sizes and suppliers coming from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao to draft the proposed protocols for the industry in preparation for resumption of construction work in areas under quarantine.
“The TWG drafted the ‘Construction Guidelines for Project Implementation during the period of Public Health Emergency’ as a reference for contractors and implementing agencies, to ensure viability of projects and protection from and spread of the coronavirus. The TWG considered four (4) major components of the project cycle, namely; Materials, Manpower, Machinery and Money or the 4Ms of construction in creating the Construction Guidelines for Project Implementation during the period of Public Health Emergency.
“These were developed considering SME contractors which employ the biggest chunk of the industry’s labor workforce and large contractors involved in both public and private infrastructure projects as well as vertical construction. The guidelines will give pointers in managing their human resources at this critical time but will likewise give important directions to contractors in managing their business not just for survival but to be able to contribute to the country’s economic recovery program.”
For a copy of the complete Construction Guidelines, you may view or download it in this link:
“The new normal is restrictive, but enacting effective safety measures for the worksite is for everyone’s sake. Stay safe and stay prepared, especially with recent reports stating a rise in infections in the Philippines. Never undervalue the health of your workers, and never underestimate the contagiousness of the virus.”
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