The spread of COVID-19 hit the construction industry hard. When lockdown went into force, many sites reduced their workforces or shut sites altogether to protect workers. Supply chains were interrupted and confidence in new projects plummeted. The pressure was also on to create new processes and procedures to keep vital projects going and to ensure that work could start up as quickly as possible post-pandemic.
For many companies, dealing with these pressures has been an uphill battle. But some, such as London-based LS Build, have quickly adapted to the situation and put themselves on a strong footing for the reopening of sites. And key to LS Build’s agility has been the processes and procedures put in place by their ISOs.
The family-run firm of LS Build implemented a quality management system (ISO 9001) in 2017, which has been joined by an occupational health & safety management system and environmental management system.
All of their construction sites closed in March, but this did not mean that the company hit the pause button.
Successful implementation of ISO 9001 meant that the company had already identified potential risks to its procedures and developed processes that would allow key functions to continue. For instance, field staff were already equipped with iPads to allow home working, and when sites closed, office work was able to continue remotely to keep the business moving.
“Running a normal service from the office, along with normal day-to-day office roles, was only possible due to us achieving ISO 9001,” says Steve Smith, director of LS Build. “Achieving ISO 9001 also allowed me to think about all possible scenarios and plan for them.”
With a fully operational office team working from home, the company was also able to use lockdown to prepare themselves for restarting crucial construction projects. The firm built on their existing quality, occupational health & safety and environmental processes and created new ones to ensure their workforces would be prepared for their return to work.
“If it wasn’t for the ISOs, the business would have taken a pause,” Steve Smith stated. “That pause would have affected the business in a way I just couldn’t imagine, delaying proceedings and putting us firmly behind the curve.”
As part of their preparations, the firm introduced:
They also liaised with clients and surveyors on their needs for uninterrupted supply chains and coordinated effort. All of this was achieved while the office team worked from home.
Staff were also able to take part in additional training thanks to their remote working equipment. This meant everyone was fully up to speed on handwashing and social distancing guidance before sites began to reopen.
As sites returned to operation in May, LS Build was confident that its workforce had the right processes and procedures to rely upon to keep them safe and maintain productivity.
Disruption can occur at any time and every business needs to be prepared. ISO 9001 gives businesses a framework to ensure that it is consistently able to meet customer needs.
To ensure quality, the ISO requires businesses to identify risks such as interrupted supply chains, staff sickness and office closures. After identifying these risks, businesses must put processes in place so that consistency is maintained.
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