Building through Pandemic Era Hazards

 

Six surreal months ago, our lives changed: the way we interact, the way we co-exist, the way we work. For those of us in the building industry, the challenges presented by COVID-19 forced us to retool our approach in all ways. Thankfully, due to the grit and resilience that is innate in construction – and the profound respect we have for safety overall – we pivoted quickly and embraced our new normal.

Blach Construction was fortunate to be building projects deemed “essential” during the strict Shelter in Place Orders issued initially in March. Our binary goal was, as it always has been, to shield our workforce from danger and continue serving our clients – something we’ve taken great pride in doing for the last 50 years. In 1970, our firm was built around a culture of safety. Fast forward to 2020 and we have relied heavily upon our pedigree to face head-on this year’s social hazards, which now includes seriously unhealthy air quality as a result of widespread, regional wildfires. Always proactive and methodical, we responded quickly, devising (and continually updating) several new safety strategies that maintain the well-being of our teams, partners and projects. We are proud to have accomplished so much in so little time, specifically having:

  • Designed and rapidly produced additional, unique personal protective equipment (PPE), leveraging our in-house prefabrication shop and talented craftspeople to deploy mandatory face shields for our hard hats to all workers well before the end of March.
  • Increased Illness and Injury Prevention (IIPP) requirements, arming our teams with the products, procedures and protocol necessary to maintain the highest and safest levels of hygiene.
  • Digitized all certification forms, allowing for no-contact, greater expediency and better contact tracing.
  • Expanded our use of virtual tools and practices, resulting in increased productivity, engagement and full-team alignment, and enabling teams to closely monitor challenges and debate solutions openly, intelligently, collaboratively and instantly.
  • Re-examined the already-healthy air filtration and ventilation systems of our innovative Folia classroom building solution, increasing both to yield more fresh air and reduce airborne toxins, viruses and contaminants.
  • Formed a Social Impact Team to positively affect ongoing change throughout our company and communities.
  • Established mandatory smoke protection protocol, exceeding Cal-OSHA’s requirements, to aptly address the wildfires that are plaguing the west coast, including closely monitoring the Air Quality Index (AQI) on affected sites and providing respirators to all personnel.
  • Mobilized forces to aid our colleagues and partners personally affected by these wildfires, offering trucks, storage and personal assistance.

The results of our collaborative efforts are extremely gratifying. Not only have many of our projects gained critical schedule efficiencies, true to our strong heritage of safety, we have had no recordable injuries or accidents to date this year and claim an impressive 3.8 million total hours worked without a lost workday over the last decade. Most importantly, however, we have a newfound respect for working together while apart – regardless of the task or challenge.

In honor of Construction Safety Week, we are compelled to celebrate the positive outcomes of the seriously trying, varied and many challenges we’ve been confronting. And while there is still some uncertainty, one thing is sure: Blach teams will always be well-trained, well-prepared and well-protected to safely continue building and delivering the quality experience and structures our clients, partners and communities expect.