The construction industry is coming up with innovative ways to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 on jobsites.
The Ontario Road Builders’ Association (ORBA) is hosting a webinar series billed COVID-19 and the Road Building Industry. Innovative Solutions to Worksite Safety was the topic discussed May 8.
“I think it’s important that we all work off each others’ ideas because we’re definitely all in this together,” said Malcolm Croskery, COO of Pioneer Construction Inc.
Dig-Con International president and CEO Sam DiGregorio said the company came up with a simple design for mobile washing stations that can be moved around a jobsite or to different jobsites, especially ones where it is difficult to get running water.
“When COVID broke out we were all concerned about how we were going to maintain running water for our worksites. With us on the roadbuilding end, it made it very difficult to have running water,” he said.
The station is built in Bolton, Ont. on a skid using simple two-by-four and plywood construction.
“It allows you to move the washing facility and it allows you to load it onto an enclosed trailer at the end of the day so its housed away and doesn’t get vandalized,” he said.
The station includes a stainless steel sink and a pedal which pumps the water from the reservoir located in the back out through the faucet. The water drains into a five-gallon pail and when the pail is full, a lid is placed on it so it can be safely removed and emptied. Although they were unable to install an electric powered soap dispenser, it does have motion sensor to minimize contact.
“You want to minimize contact that any employee or personnel has with any part of this apparatus,” explained DiGregorio. “All these products are locally purchased so you don’t have to wait any length of time to get them.”
Sudbury, Ont.-based Pioneer Construction is doing temperature monitoring, start-up safety training online, paperless options such as digital timesheets and installing screens for pickup trucks to help reduce the onsite spread of the virus.
“When the pandemic was first announced we decided to get non-contact thermometers and we gave them to all our crew leaders. We started taking temperatures one to two times daily,” said Croskery. “We’ve had really good results from this in the office in the shops.
“It’s just another line of defence. If someone has a temperature over 38 degrees (Celsius) they are asked to self-isolate, contact their medical professionals and not come back to work until they’re cleared.”
Furthermore, the company started implementing digital solutions such as providing safety training online instead of in-person.
“We already had purchased software from eCompliance and were leaning towards paperless products. I think COVID just sped things up a bit,” said Croskery. “We ended up putting all of our startup safety training, WHMIS, site inspection and orientation on eCompliance.”
In some trucks, a flexible screen, using similar material to that used on boats, has been installed to add further protection.
Colin Dickey, president of Protect Technologies, talked about a product called Aegis microbe shield and how it can help keep environments safe as people begin to go back to work. While disinfecting is important during this time, the challenge is when disinfectant dries, the surface can be recontaminated.
“Aegis is a product that protects surfaces for a long time,” said Dickey. “It’s been used in countless applications. We usually say it’s a one-year application and this is providing protection between disinfection.”
The coating can be sprayed or wiped onto a surface.
“It actually bonds to the surface at a molecular level and if a microbe — bacteria, mould, yeast — lands on that surface, it punctures the cell membrane and kills it. It prevents a surface from being contaminated by bacteria which is really important,” said Dickey.
He said the company has worked with Metrolinx and treated buses and trains in Toronto, Mississauga and Oakville. They are also working on transit in New York and New Jersey.
“Basically, you’ve got a driver in a compartment, it’s a confined space, they are in there all day, long hours, you are eating and drinking in those vehicles, you have a rotation of staff and that environment makes for a really challenging situation,” explained Dickey.
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