Our COVID-19 response, now and for the future

30th July 2020

In light of the major changes being felt across all industries by the coronavirus, we wanted to provide an overview on how Cleveland Bridge Group has responded to the situation.

Across the entire company, we implemented many new health and safety practices and policies that will continue – even as we look beyond the pandemic. Continue reading below to find out how we have responded in our offices, factories and construction sites.

In the offices

With the UK going into lockdown in March, we took swift action to better protect our office employees.

For starters, anyone shielding or high risk was immediately put on leave or full time work from home. We also implemented capacity limits within the office; only 50% of the workforce could be present at any one time (on a rotational basis). Those with childcare concerns (due to school closures) were granted a flexible working schedule to fit around their at-home responsibilities.

Then, we looked at how we could make the office itself a safer environment. This included wholesale adoption of video conferencing in place of face to face meetings, increased cleaning regimes, multiple new hand-washing stations and more space between desks, as well as reduced meeting sizes, ceasing all office visitors and travel for non-essential reasons.

To address any concerns and proactively manage communication in such uncertain times, we started with daily briefings to all and gradually moved to weekly communications to keep everyone abreast of the situation. At accompanying Q&A sessions, staff are also given an opportunity to directly voice any questions, suggest new initiatives or raise best practices from other businesses.

Looking to the future, we plan to keep all our current COVID policies in place until the government announce it is safe to lift them.  However, many of our flexible working practices will be retained as more modern and new effective ways of working.  Cleveland Bridge Group have started a phased return to work for all employees, while ensuring our office environment remains entirely safe.

In the factories

As remote working is not possible for employees fabricating bridges on the factory floor, we needed to take a different tact to adhere to social distancing guidelines.

Fortunately, the nature and scale of our factory means that there are only a couple of areas where employees would need to be closer than two metres. In those circumstances, where it’s necessary for employees to work in close proximity for longer than 15 minutes, our health and safety team carry out a risk assessment. Depending on the outcome, either an alternative way of working is found or all employees involved are given additional personal protective equipment (PPE) to ensure their safety.

Otherwise, our factory work has continued as normal – albeit with an injection of additional PPE, floor markings and extra sanitising stations. We have also (where possible) rotated and staggered shifts, including start, finish and staggered break times.

Even during such strange circumstances, our factory employees have stepped up to the challenge. Cleveland Bridge Group has been extremely busy during this period and our workforce have changed their operating procedures whilst continuing to hit contractual deadlines and working alongside 50% more operatives across our operations.

On the construction sites

When the government communicated  that the continuation of construction projects deemed essential, Cleveland Bridge Group quickly introduced protective policies to keep our sites safe.

Site accommodation and amenities also posed a challenge to our projects; the government announcement caused the hotel industry to shut down overnight. This created a logistical challenge for our teams working on sites away from home. In order to keep these sites running successfully and meeting critical dates, we had to be agile and flexible. This meant lots of early starts, ensuring our site teams were fully equipped with provisions before travelling to work.

No matter the project, each individual task is assessed on its viability. We asked questions like: Is the task essential? Are there alternative methods? Does the task require two people? Only then can any type of work take place.

On a broader scale, we put employees into place bubbles; typically these are made up of two people who will only work with each other on a project. This helps to limit transmission via face to face contact, as these pairs avoided other place bubbles on site.

We also provided each employee with additional PPE, including FFP3 masks – which are of a higher standard than those required by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Of course, Cleveland Bridge Group are not alone on our construction sites – we work with many contractors and sub-contractors. This proximity with other companies has made collaboration (especially early collaboration) essential to keeping sites safe for all of our workers. As firm believers in the power of collaboration, we welcome this increased communication with our project peers and colleagues.

At Cleveland Bridge Group, the safety of our people is our top priority. We will continue to assess and modify our COVID-19 policies to create safe working environments across the entire company.

Stay up to date with the latest from Cleveland Bridge