With the current situation – construction sites back in action but having to cope with a pandemic – it’s never been more important to get it right when planning a site office, particularly around social distancing and hygiene measures.
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. So, in today’s article, we’re going to cover the most important things to consider when planning a site office.
Health and safety
Away from the more traditional health and safety measures you’d expect 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.
The requirements and advice don’t stop there, with the Construction Leadership Council outlining a comprehensive list of measures, which you can read in full via their latest version of the site operating procedures guidance.
Think about the weather
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 dry and occupants — providing they’re following social distancing measures.
Essential equipment and information
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) will expect certain items and information to be displayed in the site office. Not having these on display can lead to companies being issued hefty fines.
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.
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 on 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 on-site.
Secure the surroundings
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 both 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.
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 is 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.