Cement mixers are used in many forms and other articles have already stressed the importance of constant maintenance. If not properly maintained, your cement mixers will clog up, stop working and eventually start costing you money rather than making it. This article will give you some tips on mitigating the risks that cement mixers and other things like confined spaces can cause on your construction site and how to properly place your employees.
Cement mixers should always be properly sprayed down and cleared of debris after every use.
But this maintenance and hygienic way of thinking needs to go beyond cement mixers, under normal circumstances and especially in today’s times. If you have multiple works using the same machine, this could create a hotspot for an infectious disease, such as Covid-19.
Therefore you need to ensure that proper precautions and safety measures are put around all of your cement mixers and other machinery. Cement mixers are mentioned specifically as they are never a one man job and would already fall into a high risk classification. They will always have multiple workers using it and moving in between it and other parts of the site.
The Coronavirus has already put most of us out of work for months and this is our chance to get back into the swing of things. But this doesn’t mean that we should be complacent, as that kind of thinking will send infections up and will send us right back into quarantine. We all need to do our part to ensure that everyone is kept as healthy and safe as possible.
Cement mixers: Covid-19 Precautions in a Construction Site
It goes without saying that general hygiene precautions should be in place at any workplace for the foreseeable future, this includes constant washing and sanitizing of hands, wearing masks and social distancing wherever possible. Of course because you cannot do construction virtually or stay apart from others for very long, even more emphasis needs to be placed on the former precautions. As a site owner or manager you should also make this as easy and accessible for all workers or any other people entering and exiting your site.
As an employer you need to emphasise the dangers of the disease and the importance of staying home if any symptoms are felt and possibly have your own check-ups in place. You should attain the medical histories of all employees to see if there are any underlying conditions that would place them at a higher risk from the disease. These workers should then be placed onto jobs with the smallest amount of contact with others to keep them safe.
A good way to spread out the jobs and allow social distancing would be to put the different tasks on the site into different danger categories. Jobs with minimal contact and wide open spaces with lots of ventilation would be low. Jobs that require multiple workers to be within 1 metre of each other in a confined space would be placed at medium.
Jobs that require multiple workers within a confined space, minimal ventilation and possibly going within 1 meter of each would be high risk and should either be avoided or closely monitored. A very high risk would be someone with symptoms working with others but this is not even an option. A worker that is showing symptoms should be sent for a test and self-quarantine until the results can be attained.
Sanitising stands are quite cheap, easy to assemble and can be placed at all entrances, exits and paths of most foot traffic. It must be made mandatory for anyone entering or exiting to make use of these stations and employees must be encouraged to use them regularly throughout their work day. If anyone on your site tests positive for the virus your entire operation would need to be shut down and quarantined, besides the danger to life this is obviously a major expense as well.
Tools that are frequently used by multiple people such as shovels, axes, ladders and drills should be sanitised after every use, or solely used by one employee each day with a santising session at the end. If they have been installed, doorknobs, railings and handles will also need to be disinfected daily as these will definitely be used by multiple people. Portable toilets installed on the site will need to be sanitized after every use along with workers thoroughly washing their hands.
Proper hand hygiene on the construction site is the most important thing, if workers continuously wash and disinfect their hands this drastically lowers the need for gloves, although you can never be too safe. Along with the already mentioned stations there should also be frequent places for workers to wash their hands with water and soap. Most health organizations agree that hands should be washed for at least 20 seconds to be most effective at killing the virus.
If there are multiple workers using a cement mixer, which there almost always is as they need to combine the aggregates, watch the cement mixers themselves while they operate and then remove the finished concrete, then the machine will need to be sanitised regularly and the workers must have minimal contact with others on the site that are working on other things. It may be in your best interest to form your workers into small groups that will work on the same things each day and have as little contact with the other groups as possible. This is a small way to keep track of sanitisation and prevent a possible infection from having a greater impact.
All permanent employees will need to be properly educated on the correct safety procedures and why they need to follow them. Part of this is having knowledge on all possible symptoms of the coronavirus and informing their supervisor as soon as any are present. They will also need to be provided with masks if they do not have any, and no, dust masks don’t count. All workers will also need to be temperature checked at the beginning, middle and end of the day with the temperatures being recorded to spot anything wrong.
If there are small rooms being worked on, trailers being used or elevators on the site, you will need to put limits on the amount of people that are allowed inside to allow for some sort of social distancing. You should also attempt to create as much ventilation and moving air as possible, possibly with fans. All workers should wear gloves at all times and if anyone makes contact with open skins they need to immediately be sanitised.
All face-cloths worn, whether provided by the company or otherwise will need to be cleaned at least once a week to ensure their effectiveness. All employees must be informed on the dangers of making constant contact with their nose and mouth and it must be avoided whenever possible. Tissues should also be provided as well as several places to properly dispose of them.
If there is a chance of an infected employee, anyone that they have been in close contact with will need to immediately be sent for an antibody test and quarantine until the results are received. If there are any antibodies found then the employees will need to be sent for further tests to ascertain the rate of infection. A swab test will be able to give more accurate results, but is more costly and can take up to 15 days for results to be received.
Due to most construction employees being paid a daily rate rather than a monthly salary, it may be difficult to enforce workers staying home if symptoms arise. This is where the constant temperature checks and sanitising will come into play, but besides this you may need to provide extra incentive for sick workers to stay home without it being taken advantage of. It should be made known that Coronavirus tests will be paid for by the company and if the results come up positive the worker will receive paid leave until they are fit for work again.
To prevent this from being taken advantage of you can make the positive test mandatory. This will prevent workers from coming to work if they believe they may have the virus while preventing workers from taking advantage of the paid leave as they will need the test first. Of course a certain level of trust will also be needed between the employees and employer.
How a Disease can Spread from Cement Mixers to Clients
As it has caused a worldwide pandemic and we have already spent months in home, you don’t need me to tell you that the Coronavirus is extremely contagious and dangerous. Studies have shown that it can remain active on metal surfaces for up to 72 hours depending on its condition. If someone who has coronavirus makes contact with the cement mixers, it has a high chance of transferring to anyone who then touches it who will then take it to other areas of the site thus transferring it to others, quickly creating a super-spreader event.
The virus can travel between the air, people, tools and any surfaces that others have come into contact with and can be extremely dangerous to the elderly and those with underlying conditions. The first lockdown was devastating, for the construction industry especially as we were additionally only allowed to resume work at level If things are allowed to spiral out of control we could see the country head back to a stricter lockdown and the industry begin to collapse.
Employees from outsourced companies can possibly be a very high risk of danger as you can never confirm that they have the same policies in place that your company does. They should also be temperature checked and disinfected upon entry as well as kept apart from permanent employees as much as possible. Any tools or surfaces that the outsourced company comes into contact with will also need to be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized.
This goes for machinery too, if cement mixers or any other tools or large machinery is rented or leased from another company they will need to be sanitised before it is used by employees on the site, during its use as specified above and and after use before it is returned. Besides being common etiquette, this will ensure that there are no foreign contaminants that will make your other precautions ineffective. Safety needs to be on everyone’s minds at all parts of the process.
On a day to day basis so many people come in and out of a construction site. This can range from workers and supervisors, outsourced specialists, inspectors clients. Many of these people will also travel between more than one construction site in a day, thus spreading a possible infection even further. By taking precautions on your site you are not only protecting yourself but possibly many others around you as well.