Managing your business thru these crazy covid timesBy Frank Gandora
The covid-19 pandemic has literally turned this world upside down. In my state, our governor recently announced the reopening of our state parks. Then he recommended we limit travel to 10 miles from home, far short of the nearest park. For our protection, the state closed down all the public restrooms at those parks and installed porta pottys because apparently the coronavirus doesn’t hang out in porta pottys?
Restaurants are now open, but they can’t serve food beyond 7:45pm because that’s when the virus comes out. Those same establishments can serve liquor until 10pm. Apparently the virus doesn’t affect beer drinkers until 10pm…. Are you experiencing the same craziness where you live?
The good news is that most of us in this line of work have been deemed “essential.”
I hope your business is doing well, and I would like to share a few things that my company is doing to navigate these crazy times.
One of the first things we did was develop an emergency preparedness response plan. It sets the rules, guidelines and procedures to prevent, contain and manage most anything coronavirus related that comes up with our crews and jobsites. The CDC offers boilerplate documents to help in writing a plan.
We refer to our plan often. For example, at the beginning of the lockdowns a crew member became sick. The plan gave us specific steps to follow for dealing with it. Without a plan, everyone has different opinions of what to do, who to call, when to go back to work, etc.
We include our plan with our bids and other documents we send to clients. It gives them peace of mind that we are taking the pandemic seriously to protect both them and our crew members.
In a weird way, our internal communication has improved. Instead of on-site visits or weekly meetings, we have relied more on text messages and emails between the project managers, field and office staff. This creates a documented record of the communication and eliminates excuses for people forgetting or not hearing what was said.
Another positive change has been the organization and cleanliness of equipment and jobsites. On some sites wash stations have been built so crew members can wash their hands frequently if needed. Tools that are shared by multiple people can be sanitized after each use by using a mixture of 1/3 cup bleach to 1 gallon of water. Broken tools and equipment are identified during the wash down rather than just thrown in the trailer. Tools and equipment also seem to find their proper place in the trailers.
On the jobsite, crew members are taking extra steps to watch out for each other. Crew members are now more cautious of each other’s safety and health because it could directly affect each of them. They regularly check on each other to see how they’re doing, thus staying connected and healthy.
Beyond socially distancing and wearing masks we have also tried to limit coronavirus exposure by having crew members drive their own vehicles directly to the jobsite. Fewer people in a vehicle helps lessen crew members’ chances of catching and taking the virus home with them.
OSHA is a great resource for helping contractors deal with virus-related issues. OSHA safety regulations affect all jobsites including residential. A lot of contractors don’t know that OSHA recently reversed the recordability requirements for positive covid-19 test results. What does that mean? Check it out on their website and keep an eye out for those types of changes on a regular basis.
Lastly, one resource that has really helped me stay updated on covid-related regulations and best practices is ConcreteBusinessUpdate.org. This website was designed specifically for hardscapers by ICPI, NCMA and the Canadian Concrete Masonry Producers Association (CCMPA). It brings you the latest on what you need to know to manage your business thru this pandemic. I recommend you check it out.
Be strong. Be of good courage. God bless America; long live the republic.
Frank Gandora CCPI is President of Creative Hardscape Company in Lakewood, CO. Frank is also a certified hardscape trainer and a regular seminar presenter at Hardscape North America.