Like most during 2020, we have had to overcome some difficult challenges on our current work. Especially those with close two-man operations, such as the recent mains power changeover on the Astex Pharmaceuticals project in Cambridge where our foremen had to wear full face shield masks and disposable overalls.
Following the government’s announcement on 23rd March, we decided to suspend our site activities to assess the work and social distancing implications. Soon thereafter, we started to return to sites once the appropriate measures and procedures were put in place to allow us to operate safely.
Our site in Shoe Lane in London with ISG was the first to return within a few days of the lockdown and following significant changes to the site set up, access, and walkways by the main contractor. Fortunately, we had a fair bit of second fix work which was ongoing at the time of the lockdown, which meant that we were able to progress safely whilst maintaining social distancing guidelines. We are currently well into second fixing all the toilets cores, which includes installing over 130 No. toilets and basins, along with commencing the flushing and water treatment process.
One of the seven open plan floors at Shoe Lane in London.
Our work with Morgan Sindall at Bridge School in Ipswich also resumed soon after the initial lockdown. As you can see from the photos social distancing was being observed. Thankfully, we had completed the majority of the more difficult first fix works before the lockdown. We returned to site, initially with a limited workforce at the start of April. Since then, we have gradually increased our labour resources to successfully advance our works with single-person activities in a carefully sequenced manner with other trades. This has allowed us to maintain the original programme dates and hopefully hand over the first phase of the works before the end of July.
Social distancing at Bridge School in Ipswich.
Sybil Andrews School in Bury St Edmunds is another site where we have resumed work with Barnes Construction. Some of our colleagues even featured on the regional Look East TV news programme when the site reopened to discuss how we had altered our working arrangements to operate safely during these unprecedented times. Again, we were in the fortunate situation with most of the first fix works already installed prior to the site reopening later in April following agreement of safe site operating procedures. Due to the safety precautions introduced and a relatively small number of trades being on site we have managed to progress our second fix works. We will also soon commence our work in the original Heart building (completed by Bower Fuller during 2016) for remodelling works in the summer holiday period. The remodelling works will bring the various departments to their final locations within the school complex.
Work continues in one of the classrooms at Sybil Andrews Academy.
Our site teams have managed to adapt to the new social distancing procedures and have probably never had such clean hands. We all need to get used to new ways of working to navigate our way through on all sites as the restrictions are likely to continue for the foreseeable future.
We will continue working together, taking precautions and staying safe.