Construction Industry Post-COVID-19 Challenges Term Paper
The whole construction industry including the subcontractors, contractors, owners, developers, suppliers, and chain vendors has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic to varying degrees. The scope and the scale of the impact depend on the location of the underlying projects and the respective businesses. The direct impact ranges from termination of projects, delayed payments of wages or no payments at all to the workers, and the slowdown of the available goods. As a result of these problems brought about by COVID-19, the members in the industry have been forced by circumstances to come together and draw short and long-term plans. The other challenges the industry is facing are the safety of workers ranging from occupational safety and health to COVID-19 safety issues (James et al., 2020). Covid-19 has adversely affected the construction more specifically the employees because their wages were stopped when the pandemic struck. Due to the general decline in the economic activities during the covid-19 pandemic, the financial institutions are not ready to give loans or fund the construction of projects. They make such a decision because they are not sure of the economic viability of the developments being undertaken. The likelihood of the projects not being economically viable is high at this time, which can lead to the money lent not being repaid or repaying delayed. When the economy is not doing well or when there is a recession l such as the one caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the on whom to loan. If they lend carelessly, they are likely to put their financial goals in jeopardy because their profit projections might be affected. That is the reason why the financial institutions are not in a hurry to assist the construction sector. During the covid-19 period, the construction industry has not been doing well; therefore, they will be reluctant to advance money to the industry (James et al., 2020).
This state has been compounded by the bad financial situation the industry was in. At this time, resolutions have to be made prudently because the environment that the industry is operating in is unknown. It, therefore, means that any decision that has to be made must be thoroughly thought before it is implemented (Jenn, 2020). The teams which have the necessary legal and industrial experience have to be consulted so that they can give their informed advice. Making sound and practical decisions is a priority in the construction industry. Although it is a fact that the Covid-19 pandemic has brought financial constraints in the construction industry, the owners are also capitalizing on the situation in order not to pay the workers and general contractors their dues. The general contractors will also manage claims dishonestly so that they can delay in paying the subcontractors. The main reason for doing this is to take financial advantage of the other parties. For instance, if there are projects that have been delayed and do not have a , and perhaps the work was accelerated and was ahead of the scheduled payment will be withheld. Therefore, the parties that have an upper hand will try to treat the other party unfairly to gain a monetary advantage. These are some of the problems and challenges the workers in the construction industry are facing (Jenn, 2020).
There will be several claims over the little amount of money available which will lead to some projects either being repossessed by the lender or failing to continue. All the engagements between the parties must document in the course of the construction so that in case of anything, the information can be retrieved. The covid-19 pandemic has taught the parties the importance of keeping records. The pandemic led to the abrupt closure of the projects, leaving no time for consultations therefore, the records will be useful in solving any impending issue. The parties should track all the covid-19 records and document any relevant information. However, as the claims continue, the parties who are on the upper tier will use the claims as an excuse to continue withholding payments unfairly (Jenn, 2020). In the end, the parties on the lower tier are the ones who will be left disadvantaged. To prevent such problems, the parties involved in the construction sector need to carefully and thoroughly assess the contracts they are engaged in. They should ensure that they comply with the requirements of the contract and that the notice period on the contract is adhered to. Ensuring that the contracts entered are in order is important because there are parties that are opportunistic and would like to treat the other parties unfairly. Besides, the party that is on the receiving end should on regular basis by looking at their receivables. They should avoid making assumptions that receivables are as good as cash both when the economy is good and when it is bad. They should review the project receivables on weekly basis and the focus should mainly be on the amount they are owed on particular projects (Jenn, 2020). They should look at the amount of money to be received from the other projects as they continue doing more work.
Compliance with the Workplace Safety and Health
It is a fact that the environment for the workers in the construction industry is not conducive because the workers are exposed to preventable hazards. The workplace should be free of any recognizable hazards that are likely to cause serious physical harm or even death. Under the Occupational and Safety Health Administration (OSHA), every employer (with few exceptions) in the private sector, is expected to ensure that the safety of the workers is given utmost priority. To meet the general requirements of OSHA, the industry is also expected to meet the requirements of the Center for disease control and prevention (CDC) and the standards set by the USA Department of Health and Human Services. Additionally, the guidelines that are periodically issued by the municipal, local, and state governments must also be adhered to. The industry also needs to ensure that the guidelines given from time to time on how to protect the employees from the Covid-19 pandemic should also be heeded to (Jenn, 2020).
If all these guidelines, regulations, and standards are not met, then the workers will be subjected to unwarranted dangers that can read even to death The situation on the ground in this industry is different because some of the companies have not met the required standards set by the regulatory bodies hence, exposing the workers to unnecessary dangers. During this covid-19 time, the workers are not provided with the protective gear to protect themselves from catching the virus. Additionally, the OSHA guidelines are disregarded by some companies in this industry thus, leaving the workers exposed. As the economy slowly returns to the new normal, the construction industry has to institute stringent measures to ensure that its workers are safe as they return to work. If the companies in the construction industry try to return to work with the usual mentality, they will be met with a great shock because things have changed in a big way. One of those issues is the safety of the workers and the long hours to deliver on the projects (Jason, 2020).
The safety of the workforce will be given priority because if one of them is affected, then the entire company will be affected. The Covid-19 pandemic has brought to the spotlight the importance of ensuring the safety and health of the workers in the construction sector. The contractors in the industry promptly responded to that by making sure that the temperatures of employees are taken regularly to ensure that no one has the virus. Therefore, when workers report to work, their temperatures are taken before they are admitted. If any of them , they will not be allowed in. Another stringent measure is to stagger the work into shifts comprising of a good number that can permit them to keep a social distance (Jason, 2020).
This might increase the cost of running the business but it is one of the most important measures that have to be taken. Furthermore, the rooms and tools that are used by the workers have to be disinfected after some time. All the construction companies have to ensure that every employee is wearing a mask all the time while at the workplace. No worker will be allowed into the company premises if they are not wearing masks. The companies also must have hand washing disinfectants and handwashing points. The employees are expected to wash their hands or disinfect them regularly. (Jason, 2020).
All these steps are taken to ensure that the environment is clean, the workers are not crowded and nobody is allowed into the premises if they are suspected to be having Covid-19. The enforcement of the new normal guidelines will be done by the government agencies that are responsible such as the federal, local, and state bodies. OSHA Directed that all employers must have a detailed and comprehensive written document on the disease preparedness and the response plans. The safety plans put in place are for now and the future because the medical experts believe that the virus will be attacking in waves, and will be around for some time even if a vaccine is found (Jason, 2020).
It is therefore important that the sector prepares to work in the new normal environment. Some states such as Washington have put in place guidelines that require the employees in the construction site to stay at a minimum of six feet from one another. Any company that violates these guidelines will be shut down. There are no group activities permitted at the construction sites meaning that the project teams have to look for new ways in which they will be working together (Jason, 2020).
These tough requirements mean that some meetings by the project team members will be conducted virtually Another new normal is that the project will take longer than it previously took. The longer project completion is because fewer workers will be working to keep social distance and staggering shifts will equally delay project completion. The speed at which workers who are adorning personal protective gear will be reduced because of the cumbersome nature of such gears (Jason, 2020).
Therefore, the owners of the projects, engineers, architects, and subcontractors need to understand that for the time being, the projects will have to take a little bit longer to be completed. Some of the construction work will be done through telework. Remote working will be the norm where people more especially the professionals will be working from home. It, therefore, means that most of them will rely on technology such as texting, emailing and video conferencing to perform their duties (Jason, 2020).
Remote working may eventually become permanent because it is cost-effective due to the reduction of transport costs and other costs related to working in the office such as the office space. Before the pandemic, the voices of the workers in the construction sector were not heard. However, after the emergence of the pandemic, the voices of the employees in the sector have increased. Most of them have joined trade unions so that they can fight for their job-related interests. The trade unions in New York have been vocal in compelling the government to shut down the construction projects that were still in operation even though they had not met the requirements set out by the regulatory bodies. In Massachusetts, the workers staged a walkout due to unsafe working conditions in the city (Jason, 2020).
These examples demonstrate how trade unions have become stronger in advocating for the rights of their members. Some unions in the USA have been trying to persuade the government to declare the construction workers as part of the essential services so that they can continue discharging their services without any interruption. During this period of the pandemic, the members of the unions in the construction industry have benefitted due to the unrelenting effort of their union leaders to ensure that their welfare is taken care of. The unions will continue to be stronger as the pandemic continues (Jason, 2020).
It is, therefore, important that the contractors in this industry work together with them to ensure that the services in the sector are not affected. The desire for some projects will upsurge while for the others it will reduce. For instance, the healthcare-related projects will expand increase due to the need to address the issues related to Covid-19 either directly or indirectly. However, the demand in the hospitality, entertainment, and retail sector will plummet because gatherings are restricted, therefore, most people will not be willing to invest in those sectors. Another compounding effect is the disruption of the supply chain, which will lead to a delay in delivering construction materials. Due to the containment measures put in place in many parts of the world, the factories that are not working to capacity and some were closed down (Jason, 2020). This disruption has affected the supply of the muchneeded construction materials.
The construction industry has immensely been affected by the Covid-19 forcing it to adopt new ways of survival. However, the lower-tier workers are the ones who have been impacted most. In some companies, the environment in which they work does not meet all the safety protocols, thus exposing them to occupational hazards. During the pandemic, the industry will have to make several adjustments to ensure that the safety of the employees is taken care of. Therefore, all the stakeholders in the sector should be fully prepared for those drastic changes.