The construction sector in Ireland has been one of the first big industries to reopen since the March Covid lockdown. With an estimated workforce of over 150 000 across the Republic and a dire need for infrastructure, housing and development projects to be completed it is a vital this sector gets moving again.
Under the Government’s 5 phase return to work strategy, the construction sector cautiously re-opened as part of phase one on Monday (18th May). You might have noticed an increase in noise levels as plant and Machinery started to move again and teams are slowly returning to sites.
It is with an undeniable sense of relief for many that they were able to return to work this week. As an outsourced supplier of trades and labour Sherlock was on the front line to the impact of Covid. The lockdown was catastrophic to the construction industry, “We experienced an immediate evaporation of 98% of the company’s business and income.” explained Arron Sherlock MD of Sherlock Recruitment. “From the outset, our primary concern was supporting all our staff both internally and onsite. If it wasn’t for the rapid response of government and the emergency programmes initiated, we would have been in an impossible situation. With over 150 trades and labour staff out on site at the time, we were under serious pressure” he continued. “Although we are far from being out of the woods yet, at least now the wheels are starting to turn again.”
With an industry desperate to get back and the restrictions starting to ease is it simply back to business as usual and is the sector taking the Covid restrictions seriously? There are several new protocols that need to be adhered to keep people working safe. One of the most important is the C-19 training mandated by Government and supported by the CIF. This training is as essential as the other onsite safety training such as manual handling and safe pass, Sherlock is working extensively with the CIF and our clients to ensure 100% compliance with the new Covid- 19 return to work protocols.
This week most contractors are only starting to take tentative steps back, with limited staff on site in line with new capacity and social distancing parameters. “Although the first week back has been a cautious one on site. Many more contractors, due to the uncertainty of the market are seeing the benefits of using outsourced trades and labour now and have been engaging with us to discuss future projects” explained Arron from Sherlock. “We are still only operating at about 40% of where we were before lockdown, but there is definitely light at the end of the tunnel”. “Our primary concern is always the safety of the staff and their families. We are glad to say there doesn’t seem to be a site across the country that isn’t taking this pandemic very seriously.”
As the easing-in period continues, larger construction projects are staggering the number of workers on site. From the reopening date a site previously with 70 workers may start back with just 40 to ensure physical distancing of 2m between people gradually building up to 50 then 60 etc.
The sector is chomping at the bit to get going again as these projects will need to be finished, timelines have changed which has a major knock on effect and costs are still to be calculated. But despite the desire to get back into full swing the construction sector is putting safety first. The good news is that Ireland is picking itself up and seems to be doing it in a controlled, sensible and well managed manner.
Sherlock Recruitment is a leading supplier of outsourced Trades and labour solutions to the Irish and European Construction industry. Establish in 2014 by current MD Arron Sherlock, the organisation is a national concern that provides support across all trades and labour disciplines.