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Covid-19 and the Impact on Construction

PIMeo helping the construction industry by offering solutions to Covid-19 problems

As numerous other posts have stated, we are definitely living in unprecedented times. Rather than looking at the past, I thought it would be interesting to have a look at the present and also the future – a few months into the future.

What’s happening now?

Right now, Main Contractors are examining the contracts applicable to each of their Projects and notifying their Clients of Delays associated with the Covid-19 virus with a view to obtaining an Extension of Time to the works. It will be interesting to see how these discussions evolve – will there be a compromise, Client grants an Extension of Time but the Main Contractor does not seek any costs for same OR do the parties become entrenched which can be at the detriment of the Project.

If a Subcontractor on the Project has a Subcontract (a lot may not) it should notify the Main Contractor of the Delays experienced and probably seek an Extension of Time to their Works Package as per the requirements of their Subcontract. There could be a scenario where the Main Contractor has to deal with numerous claims of Extensions of Time from various subcontractors working across its numerous Projects. How will the Main Contractor handle these claims, a lot will be down to how the Main Contractor and the Client determine their own situation – a compromise might be the best option.

As can be seen from the above, things could get out of hand if the question of delays experienced to date are not resolved quickly. This is only the beginning of the journey. 

Looking ahead

It is widely accepted that a vaccine may not be available until next year (see Bill Gates interview during the One World: Together at Home concert). Consequently, the work practices as outlined in the recently released Construction Industry Federation (Ireland) guidance document “Construction Sector C-19 Pandemic Standard Operating Procedures” will be around for the foreseeable future.

All aspects of operations on site, will be examined like never before from Inductions to Risk Assessments to Monitoring to PPE, etc. With the 2m social distance probably being the most challenging to achieve. All of the aforementioned is important in trying to reduce the virus on society as a whole. 

While some tasks may carry on, more or less, as normal others will be affected and this will have a result of slowing down progress on site. If over the coming months, productivity is reduced on a variety of Work Packages, this will further affect the completion date of the Project. I am certain that Main Contractors under their contract will notify their Client’s of same.

However, what about the Subcontractors?

The majority of Work Packages on any Project are completed by Subcontractors. The Subcontractors employ the labour directly and, I believe, it is the Subcontractors who could most be affected by the various Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) that will have to be adopted over the coming months. For example, a task usually takes two operatives to complete but due to the SOPs it now requires four operatives with no uplift in productivity. There is a cost to this additional labour and it will eat into or even erode the Subcontractor’s bottom-line.

In the above case, the Subcontractor could try to mitigate the situation by:

  1. Seek an uplift in the rates for carrying out the task due to the delay and disruption being caused by implementing the SOPs
  2. Introduce pay cuts to its employees during the SOPs implementation

None of the above will be easy to achieve; however, in regard to point 1, I don’t believe the Main Contractor will give an uplift in the rates without the Subcontractor having backup demonstrating same. Consequently, the Subcontractor needs to put in place a method of tracking:

  • Number of operatives it has on the Project
  • Hours operatives are spending on completing various tasks

The subcontractor would then have to complete an analysis using the above information to demonstrate to the Main Contractor that the rates (as agreed prior to the SOPs being introduced) for carrying out the tasks are not enough for carrying out same now.

The Main Contractor will also require this information to be able to put the claim to its Client that there is disruption being experienced on site. All will be okay if the Client agrees to the claim but things will become very interesting if it is rejected. Needless to say, the Subcontractor will need to keep a very close eye on how the project is progressing and be able to adapt should the need arise.

Having information to hand when key decisions are to be made will be important.

How can PIMeo help?

Our PIMeo application can aid with recording, storing and demonstrating the hours operatives are spending completing numerous tasks. It can give: 
  • Management an overview of how a Project is performing
  • A detailed list of all operatives working on the Project
  • Information which can be used as Backup when submitting a claim

PIMeo can also help with other aspects of dealing with Covid-19, such as:

Logging Measures 

It is advised that measures taken to prevent the spread of the virus should be logged eg if a welfare facility has been cleaned, it can be photographed and logged on PIMeo. If there is a visit by a statutory body, it will be easy to demonstrate that efforts are being made to keep the virus at bay.

Site Access Systems

As turnstiles and fingerprint access systems are not recommended to be used, PIMeo can help with recording employees attendance, it can even feed into your payroll system.

Deliveries

Currently, it is recommended that handling delivery dockets should be reduced or eliminated. PIMeo can place orders with suppliers and record the delivery of the order when it arrives on site. The delivery docket does not need to be touched during the process.

Inductions / Toolbox Talks

Use PIMeo to record employees attendance at Inductions and Toolbox Talks without the need of having the employees gather in a room.
Stay safe, stay alive.

PIMeo by Mobile Cloud Systems Ltd, a document management and cost monitoring application for the Construction and Building Industry, the software can help with:

  • Going paperless, no need for handling dockets, Plant and Materials can be ordered and tracked via the system

  • Carrying out Health & Safety Inductions, the software can allow employees to complete the induction remotely

  • Carrying out Quality Assurance checks in a paperless environment

  • Recording and tracking employee hours via Allocation Sheets

  • Recording site activities in the Site Diary