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How the Construction Industry is Fighting Back Against the Coronavirus

Posted on Friday, 22nd May 2020

How the Construction Industry is Fighting Back Against the Coronavirus

As the Coronavirus continues to spread across the globe, it feels like every time we switch on the TV it’s bad news. While this terrible virus is causing suffering and distress across the world, these times of crisis have brought out some of the best elements of human kindness and compassion. Not least in the construction industry.

From charity donations to assisting on the frontline, members of the construction industry have been using their skills and resources to help those in most need and assist the fightback against Covid-19. In today’s blog we look at a handful of these inspiring stories from the industry and look at how it is changing the way we operate.

Donating PPE to the NHS

Personal Protective Equipment, also known as PPE, has been constantly in the headlines over the past few months. PPE is an essential piece of equipment for protecting the safety of healthcare workers fighting the virus.

However, due to the huge increase in demand for the equipment, certain places have struggled to get the equipment they need for their staff. To help out, many construction firms have donated vast amounts of their PPE to the NHS.

Many companies in the construction industry require people for normal work on site to protect workers from harmful dusts and pollutants. However, with on-site work slowing down, many decided that NHS should take priority in the current climate.

Among those donating excess equipment included Essex-based firm Lemon Groundwork Solutions, Maidstone housebuilders Persimmon Homes and demolition firms Cantillon and De Group.

Some firms have gone a step further, using their resources to create equipment themselves! In April, JCB announced it would be reopening it’s Uttoxeter factory and recalling a number of it’s furloughed staff with the specific goal of manufacturing new ventilators designed by Dyson.

This followed on from a number of JCB employees producing PPE for NHS staff from Principal Electronic Engineer James Morley’s converted garage in Derbyshire. It is truly inspiring to see how people are using their skills to provide for our heroes on the frontline of fighting the virus.

NHS Face Fit Testing

Assisting the NHS with Vital Training and Support

As well as having the correct PPE, health workers need training on how to use face fit equipment correctly to protect themselves and their patients. Simply put, this training saves lives.

At Essential Site Skills we were eager to assist the fight against Covid-19 in whatever way we could. To this end, our expert team of Fit2Fit qualified trainers have provided multiple Face Fit Train the Tester courses for staff at the Nottingham NHS Trust, completely free of charge.

But our involvement with the NHS has not ended here; we were honoured to be asked to assist with Face Fit Testing staff at the Nightingale Coronavirus hospital in London. This meant a number of our trainers staying in the capital and isolating themselves from their families in order to provide this support.

It was hard but incredibly rewarding work for the team and just shows in times of crisis people can come together and make personal sacrifices to help out wherever they can.

 Face Fit Train the Tester

Fundraising for Mental Health Charities

Coronavirus has not just been affected people’s physical health, but their mental health as well. The knock-on effects of the disruption caused to ‘normal life’ by the virus has put a huge amount of people under significant mental strain.

Lockdown has led to people finding it more difficult to communicate with other people, resulting in loneliness and social isolation, especially for those in high-risk categories. The virus has caused anxieties around finances, with concerns around the long-term economic impacts of the virus.

All these factors and more have seen a huge spike in people trying access mental health services. However, mental health charities have stepped-up to the challenge.

The Lighthouse Club are a charity which provides mental health services to the construction industry. They have been providing vital services to industry members and their families over the past few years. Essential Site Skills have worked closely with them and have first-hand experience of the incredible work they do.

Mates in Mind logoTo help them continue to provide support to construction workers in this time of crisis, they launched a fundraiser at the start of lockdown. In six weeks, they have already raised over £320k, with all that money being used to support construction families. This shows the incredible generosity of people during a time when money is tight. It’s also a sign of how attitudes towards mental health have changed for the better.

If you want to know more about managing mental health during the Coronavirus, the charity Mates in Mind have provided incredible useful advice to improve mental health of you and your colleagues.

New Construction Contract Awards Have Seen a Big Increase

In current situation, it can feel like the whole working world has grinded to a halt. This isn’t true for the construction industry.

Throughout the lockdown, many construction sites have remained open, with workers respecting social distancing measures while carrying out vital building work across the country. This shows the importance of construction workers and how integral their work is to keep the country going.

And despite the economic uncertainty ahead, the future for the construction industry looks bright. Over April, the amount of new construction contracts signed jumped up by a massive 50%, worth around £9.7 billion to the sector. This provides some peace of mind for workers and employers that there will be plenty of work once lockdown has eased.

The financial support being offered to the industry also appears to be working so far, with only 9 construction firms falling into administration in April. This is down from 32 in March. Hopefully, this is a sign the industry won’t be as badly impacted by Coronavirus as some had feared.

Embracing Online Training to Help Workers and Employers

Being unable to provide face-to-face training has meant that we at Essential Site Skills have had to change our approach to training. Through a lot of hard work, we have managed to adapt a number of our courses to be delivered online so workers can complete their training from home using online video conferencing.

It has been great to see trainers and learners engaged with this new form of learning, and many awarding bodies getting on board to help construction workers out at this difficult time. These training sessions have been incredibly positive for all involved and may change many people’s approach to training going forward.

To see a full list of the courses we offer, check out our video conference training page. You can also find a more in-depth breakdown of our online training in our previous blog entry on the subject.

online training

How you can help…

If you have been inspired to help out those in need during this crisis, Just Giving have provided a handy set of links to various charities looking for help and donations. We would also recommend any organisations with excess PPE equipment to consider donating them to health or social care services.

However, the most important way of helping is to obey the Government’s social distancing guidelines. Staying at home and avoiding all unnecessary contact with people can genuinely save lives.

To keep up to date with the latest guidelines, you can use the Government’s Coronavirus support website. You can also download the NHS’s Covid Tracing App to help authorities track the spread of the virus.

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