Planning a site office: Top factors contractors must consider
ECONOMY & POLICY

Planning a site office: Top factors contractors must consider

With construction sites given the green light to go back to work, it’s never been more important for those in charge of planning a site office to get things right—especially as social distancing and hygiene measures now play a vital role in any successful planning.

From health and safety through to storage, plans must be comprehensive and have contingencies factored in to ensure productivity is maintained and sites stay open during a global pandemic.

To put things in simpler terms, a site’s office must offer a combination of safety, security, amenity and visibility. Here are the most important factors to consider when planning.

COVID-19 HEALTH AND SAFETY

Away from the more traditional health and safety measures expected on a construction site, there’s a mandatory requirement for sites to follow strict social distancing and hygiene measures.

These measures include the likes of the “one-metre-plus” rule—where workers must be either two metres apart, or at least one metre if two metres isn’t achievable—and making sure hand washing stations are present at site entrances and exits.

Along with one-way systems and limiting the number of workers using canteens, workspaces and drying facilities at once, construction sites are encouraged to introduce staggered starts and finishes.

SECURITY

Regardless of lockdowns, site offices must be extremely secure. Theft can happen at any time, especially during times where our focus may be elsewhere. Attacks can often take place on weekends or during longer periods of downtime—which is something that could happen again at the blink of an eye in the current climate.

With offices holding essential documents and valuable items, security against theft and vandalism is paramount. It’s no surprise that many site offices tend to be in the form of a durable steel storage container—built to function as an office with workspace and other amenities, but also to offer a high level of protection.

Now may be the perfect time to consider purchasing site accommodation or even renting from a reputable provider.

WEATHERPROOFING

Even when areas of a site are unusable due to bad weather, the site office can operate as normal. Protection against the elements is key for any construction site, and with the security benefits a durable steel storage container site office can offer, the use of one for weatherproofing is a no-brainer. Not to mention the fact it can keep site equipment and occupants dry—provided they’re following social distancing measures.

VITAL EQUIPMENT AND INFORMATION

A site office must be equipped with a first aid kit that is easy to access and fit for use. Housing it in a site office means it can be kept secure, dry and in good condition. Documents to be housed include an accident log, induction forms, health and safety policies, construction phase plan, risk assessments, method statements, work permits, training records and a site register.

A fire extinguisher to use in case of emergencies should also be present, with more than one extinguisher placed in different areas on the site if achievable.

INFORMATION TO DISPLAY

The site office is the hub of activity on the site, so important signage that will help workers should be on display. A device for workers to sign in and out  should be placed in the office where it can be kept safe and referenced whenever an emergency arises.

The site office is also a logical place to display a notice board to make sure team members are up to speed with rules and regulations of the site. Spare PPE should also be safe and dry so it can be used by visitors when they are permitted to come onsite.

WORKSPACE

A site office’s foundations aren’t just in the brick or steelwork. The right amenities for workers should be close by. Portable drying rooms, shower units, and toilets are vital considerations when planning the site so that employees have everything they need in one centralised hub.

Visibility is also important. Double-glazed windows that allow occupants to see the rest of their site are an excellent way to achieve good visibility.

All the considerations mentioned, especially the most up to date Covid-19 guidance, will help to create a safe and secure site, while maintaining high levels of productivity. The hope now for sites that already takes these factors into account is that they can continue to operate without another lockdown.

Written by Thomas Bradley, a copywriter for Mobile Mini, with over seven years’ communications and copywriting experience. He has extensive experience within the construction, financial services sector and auto industries.

Reprinted from Construction Executive (28 October 2020), a publication of Associated Builders and Contractors, copyright 2020. All rights reserved.

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