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Tough safety rules out for construction firms

By Allan Mungai | April 23rd 2020
Construction workers in Parklands, Nairobi on Thursday, April 16, 2020. [Collins Kweyu, Standard]

Contractors wishing to continue operating during the coronavirus outbreak will have to comply with new guidelines to prevent the spread at their sites.

National Construction Authority (NCA) issued the guidelines, which include caution on the sharing of tools and reducing the number of workers on site. 

The agency says while parties to contracts are free to decide whether to close construction sites or continue, they have to adopt the guidelines to minimise risks.

“Construction workers are a vulnerable group since they are faced with the elevated risk of Covid-19 virus exposure in close-knit and unhygienic worksite conditions. They also need to keep the construction jobs to support themselves and their families as they are majorly casual labourers and self-employed,” NCA said in the guidelines released earlier in the month.

The authority said: “It is the responsibility of parties to the construction contract to determine whether to halt the construction works for a period of time or to continue. In the event that the parties agree to continue with the construction works, these guidelines must strictly be adhered to.”

One of the measures is the reduction of the number of workers onsite to a level that can allow workers keep at least a metre apart.

To achieve social distance, the agency wants contractors to employ administrative controls such as rotating shifts, separating the crews based on their work or for larger projects, creating separate entry and exit gates. 

Work area

The agency also wants contractors to forbid sharing of tools and ensure machines and equipment that are shared are sanitised with each work space having a hand sanitation point within 30 metres of the work area.

If workers must share tools, NCA says, the tools should be thoroughly disinfected with a Clorox-type wipe between users. “All equipment, plants and tools must be sanitised at the start of works twice daily, in the morning and at closure of site,” it says. 

Further, body temperatures of the construction workers and other personnel visiting the site should be taken on arrival and when they leave for home using a non-contact infrared thermometer. 

“Any employee that presents a fever or flu-like symptoms, is vulnerable or is living with someone in self-isolation should not be allowed access to site,” NCA says. 

It wants workers who develop symptoms while at work advised to self-isolate at home and shouldn’t return to work until their period of self-isolation has been completed and upon clearance by a medical doctor from a government hospital.

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