COVID-19 Working Practices
As we move into the 11th week of our new ‘normal’, and we confirm the latest update to our working practices so that more of our colleagues can return safely to work in our offices, we felt we should provide an update on how Soil Engineering have continued to provide site teams across the UK throughout the Covid-19 outbreak.
Our site operations in Scotland remain on hold apart from works clearly identified as critical, and many of our staff north of the border are currently furloughed, awaiting the unlocking of the sector in Scotland again. Our support services based in Coatbridge have been working very effectively from home, allowing us to complete project reporting for schemes finished prior to lockdown.
Our site teams working in England experienced a brief hiatus on some sites, before resuming and continuing essential contracted works under Government / CLC guidelines. Some sites were able to embed these measures rapidly and continue works almost uninterrupted, whilst others were subject to a pause before implementing more stringent measures and requirements.
The widespread nature of our critical infrastructure projects, combined with an already high level of leadership training within our teams has meant that the modified daily routines have been adopted without increasing levels of risk. Our HomeSafe +People programme has equipped our staff well for managing change and they continue to apply its core themes across our deployment.
Our Geotechnical Laboratory has benefitted from its existing clearly defined and segregated working areas, meaning little changes have been required for our Lab team beyond increases in hygiene measures and some changes to sample handling practices ensuring that the only thing passing from sample store to prep-room, and prep-room to test room is the sample itself.
Our Leeds and Camberley office and support staff are currently functioning efficiently from home with skeleton staff visiting each location under strictly controlled conditions. By carefully managing our IT infrastructure, we’ve retained fully functioning Procurement, Preconstruction, Technical, Commercial and Management teams throughout to support our onsite activities.
Our Plant Team have maintained every rig employed across the country, completing repairs, service & testing as required to keep our sites functioning safely and effectively.
We’ve introduced strict guidelines at every workplace, with safety put firmly before project progression every time. That won’t change. We will continue to adapt to our environment, to assess ever-changing risks, and to put the safety of our people, our clients, our supply chain and the public as our highest priority. Our staff have been issued with re-useable protective anti-viral “snoods”, along with strict guidelines for their use and care, to minimise our impact to the UK PPE supply chain, and the waste generated by single use masks.
Many of our staff have been furloughed, principally to provide protection to the business while non-essential work was halted, and we’ve provided ongoing support to all throughout with access to mental health support and also to CPD and training resources. While these team members aren’t at work, they’re still part of our family, and we don’t want Coronavirus to impede their development or wellbeing.
We’re grateful to have secured significant contracts during the last few weeks, which will welcome our staff back from furlough with busy diaries.
Finally, the key messages are the same as they have been throughout the crisis to date, we must all play our part in keeping infection rates low by following the rules, helping to keep infection rates down, and by respecting social distancing measures as we emerge from lockdown and adjust to the new ‘normal’.
We’re very proud of how our teams have performed in these difficult circumstances.