Contractor Management Despite COVID-19 & Labour Shortage

2021 was the first year that the UK operated outside of the European Union. Five years on from the Brexit referendum, the shockwaves finally hit for trade and industry.

Employers were faced with the worst labour shortages since the late 1990s. Alongside hospitality and logistics, construction was one of the industries worst hit. Labour shortages are set to affect British supply chains for several years yet – and this issue is not specific to the UK, it’s a challenge around the globe. Without solid systems in place, finding skilled contractors is now harder than ever.

This challenge has of course been compounded by COVID-19. With workers off sick or isolating, absence has been a huge additional burden for site management. While the short-term consequences may have passed their most sudden and severe, COVID has dramatically reshaped how sites not only recruit, but also track their contractors.

Safely managing contractors through COVID-19

When some people think of contractor tracking tools, they think of a mobile phone or GPS. But as COVID’s highlighted, sites need something more robust: a solution that gives site managers the reins.

For those using our SitePlanner contractor management software, personnel are required to check in and out of work locations or are manually checked in by site managers. By having people check in and out, you know where they are, how long they’ve been there, and who with.

Duration of interactions is key in the context of COVID. Science tells us that the longer we’re exposed to the virus, the higher our chances of catching it. Many governing bodies have put a figure on it, by saying that there’s a higher risk of contraction after 15 minutes of exposure. So if you’re a site manager, you might decide that’s your limit before issuing alerts.

Health and safety at scale

The advantage of an integrated contractor management solution is that not only will it generate this list of interactions on cue, but you can also email affected personnel directly from your centralised system.

More broadly, you’ll have all contact details for visitors, contractors, and staff. Anyone with access to the tracking data can notify the entire team. Tracking in this way looks after the health and safety of not just one contractor, but whole manifests of personnel, with no extra effort.

It also helps to have a system that allows you to upload a contractor’s Risk Assessment and Method Statement (RAMS), lock that version, and attach it to your permits or other workflow documentation, so that your documents are aligned, current, and can be reviewed at any time.

Finding and inducting alternative contractors, fast

In the event of illness or isolation affecting your workforce, you could be required to find alternative contractors, fast. It’s an administrative burden no-one needs, especially in the worst skilled labour shortage for a quarter of a century. That’s why SitePlanner can run that search for you. At the push of a button, you can see who’s on project and where, who’s skilled, whose certifications are up-to-date and, even who’s had vaccines and boosters.

When you’re recruiting new contractors fast, you’ll also need to on-board them quickly. SitePlanner’s customisable induction module is proven to significantly reduce overall induction time and get competent contractors on site faster with the information they need to help keep them safe while on site. These online inductions get your contractors site ready and up to date with changing policies related to COVID since you can easily add information on COVID-safe work practices to your inductions that are tailored to your business and policies.

Future-proof site management software

It’s one of the many COVID contingencies our software developers added at the start of the pandemic that will endure for many years to come. Because however the pandemic progresses, it’s safe to say that protecting personnel from illness and infection of one kind or another will now be on RAMS forever.

Looking back, if trade and industry have learned anything in the past five years, it’s how best to weather a storm. The answer of course is to brace yourself. That’s why it’s been a huge help for our clients to have our SitePlanner software as a safe, trusted platform that’s proven in execution. More than just software, SitePlanner’s digital systems and processes are combined, configured and prepared for the unexpected, so our clients are never caught off guard.

For more information on how SitePlanner can help sites manage personnel safely during the COVID era, visit the SeaRoc COVID Response page.

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