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4 Shifts Shaping the Construction Industry Post COVID-19

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June 1, 2020

Raphaela Mandel

There have been looming discussions about what the construction sector in Ontario will look like after COVID-19. Many have asked, “What is the new normal?” or “How can I ensure I am prepared when on-site?”

The Empire Club of Canada held a virtual event earlier in May to discuss the construction industry alongside a panel of esteemed thought leaders:

The topic of returning to work and the shifting landscape of the construction industry is one many are shying away from discussing, as it brings up tough emotions and a sense of uncertainty. Will this sector ever be the same? Do all operations and processes have to be redesigned? As Joe Vaccaro, so eloquently put it, “Innovators will be the survivors.” To rise to the challenge, safety leaders need to change their perspectives and pivot their stance to meet the new “normal”.

What were the takeaways mentioned? We created a shortlist of 4 key points safety leaders in the construction industry need to start considering:

Regulation Revolution

All industries across the world are undergoing significant adjustments to ensure everyone’s safety, including the construction industry. Measures have been currently put in place however, some of the panellists weighed in about whether these measures were working or not.

Vaccaro spoke to the necessary steps the Ministry of Labour should be implementing to check worksites if workers feel unsafe. “The only way you can make sites safer is by calling each other out. The attitude needs to be ‘safety first, we are going to be on you!’”

Dillon chimed in and spoke to the operationalization of these new policies. He spoke to the necessity of the policies and what the industry was like before COVID-19. With the heavy provisions and impact on safety, he believes people will be looking forward to returning to work more so because of the new emphasis on safety.

Takeaway #1: The workforce will be embracing the new changes in policy to keep their workforce safe. Safety will be shifted to be a number one priority; however, it is up to the supervisors and managers to continue to enforce them and lead by example.

Evergreen Policies

The importance of keeping these new regulations on-site and having them become sustainable is key to ensuring prolonged safety.

Dillon mentioned the one piece that isn’t currently part of certain regulations is distancing. The industry has, unfortunately, not been as attentive as it should have been. Everyone is starting to work together to create a strong safety culture and embodying new protocols to keep everyone safe.

Takeaway #2: The key to ensuring the success of a new policy is to review whether it is sustainable for the future. Understanding how the policy fits into the current safety program model is great but what’s even greater is achieving safety excellence with a policy that lasts a lifetime.

The Future of Bidding

The construction industry is not new to the bidding process. But something is changing, and we all need to be more aware of what those adjustments will be.

Agozzino spoke to the bidding process as a hold that needs to be plugged. He recognizes that builders are forced to face a reduction in productivity and contractual obligations and difficult conversations need to be had. The pivotal point will be understanding the needs to be made with current contracts and open the lines of communication.

Takeaway #3: Bids and projects will have higher costs moving forward and conversations about current contractual obligations need to be had. What we experienced pre-COVID-19 is no longer our present and our future. The sooner we embrace the changes made to our workforce and how this affects productivity and project timelines, the better.

Innovation is Coming

We’ve always been big believers in The Future of EHS. It’s a topic that is more top of mind than ever before. Here’s what our panelists had to say:

Vaccaro recognized the importance of innovation, reorganization of work, and what technologies teams can use to elevate themselves. He believes there is a great opportunity for re-careering individuals for sectors that may not recover. In his words, “Innovators will be the survivors.”

Agozzino tied up the ending of the webinar on a high note. He exclaimed that safety has become the forefront and innovation has always been there. It’s been changing every 6 months with new products, new items however, “nothing is going to replace the two hands of a good tradesperson.”

Takeaway #4: It’s key to stay ahead of the trends and ensure your worksite is being as innovative as possible while keeping your team safe. Those who rely on older practices or “the status quo” may sink among their competition. Now more than ever, it is encouraged to discover new methods of training, tracking, and ultimately – safety.

Three members of our Business Development team joined this webinar to gauge what the new “normal” could look like. Dylan Perego, Reza Zohouri, and Mohsin Cheema were able to learn from the speakers and evaluate how they believe the construction industry will be impacted post-COVID-19.

Here’s what our team had to say about the session:

“We are in a grey area right now with a mix of eagerness to get routines and operations back to normal, and caution on how to reach that level safely. Employee confidence in their leaders and working conditions will play a huge factor in how quickly the new normal can be reached. Communication and accountability will be more important than ever for organizations to get the most out of their employees, and for front line workers to feel confident working and interacting with loved ones.”Dylan Perego, Team Lead - Business Development

“I believe COVID-19 has helped many individuals in the industry realize the importance and complexities of health and safety. As a result, leaders will continue to lead by example by implementing new safety measures to help keep their people safe and feel confident in doing their job to put food on their tables. Health and safety is officially at the top of every industry’s priority list and the organizations who try to continue to slip through the cracks will fall behind much faster now.”Reza Zohouri, Business Development Representative

Discussing what the construction industry will look like is one safety champions need to have now. Team leads and executive members need to decide if they are ready to innovate and what they can do to put safety first, for good.

We encourage you to participate in webinars such as these to ensure you are updated on new regulations and protocols for your team. The more curious we are to learn about moving forward with change, the better we can adapt to whatever may come our way.

We’ve written a white paper on Building a High Participation Safety Culture to help you get started on strengthening your construction team on-site.

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