Page 26 - BusinessWest December 7, 2020
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 After working with safety consul- “We try to maintain social close proximity to each other.
tants, Kevin Perrier, president of Five Star Group, said his company estab- lished a COVID-19 compliance plan and implemented it across all its job sites.
“It’s been helpful because it cov-
ers everything — daily sign-in sheets, temperature checks, self-reporting pro- cedures, sanitation of the job site, and social distancing.”
Even with a solid plan, Perrier admits the additional protocols make it more challenging to bring projects to completion on time.
“We try to maintain social distanc- ing as much as possible, and that
distancing as much as possible, and
that delays our production. The
reason for the slowdown is that we
can’t cram as many workers onto the
KEVIN PERRIER ” sites as we have in the past.
“There’s a point where you have lots of moving parts, where different trades are working together in order to meet a completion schedule,” he said. “Because of coronavirus mandates, we can no longer have large numbers of people in one spot.”
In the beginning, adopting the safety mandates proved cumber- some as Pelletier would allow only one trade at a time to work on a site. After a few adjustments, more crews were able to be on site and still follow the guidelines.
“It’s a challenge to stay on sched- ule, but at least we’re now able to bring more than one trade in at a time and assign them work in different areas, so they’re not on top of each other,” he noted.
Wearing a mask all day has also been met with grudging acceptance; Pelletier said crews typically look for- ward to the moment they can remove them. “In the 90-degree weather, wear- ing a mask is definitely a health con- cern, as well as a comfort concern, but they are required, so we wear them.”
In the early days of the pandemic, shortages of personal protective equip- ment (PPE) also affected construction projects, as each site needed certain quantities for workers, as well as extra devices such as thermometers and wash stations.
At the beginning of the pandemic, Marois Construction was overpaying for — and overbuying — things like thermometers because they didn’t know how many they would need,
said Carl Mercieri, vice president and project manager. On one occasion, he recalled, the project owner stepped in and provided enough hand-washing stations for the entire construction site.
“That worked out well,” he said. “Everyone did what they had to do, and we got through it together.”
Pandemic Problems
Implementing safety protocols didn’t always go smoothly early in the pandemic. Mercieri noted a school building project where as many as 30 workers stood in line each morning for a temperature screening and sign-in before they could start their workday.
“Our biggest concern was the loss of labor caused by all the downtime in the beginning,” he said. “It’s hard to put a number on it, and you can never really recoup that cost.”
Building material costs also increased with the onset of the pan- demic. Perrier’s construction portfolio includes retail buildings, which require substantial quantities of lumber. So
far this year, lumber wholesalers are reporting price increases of 300%, and, to make matters worse, they won’t hold those inflated prices for more than 48 hours.
“The volatility of lumber prices makes it difficult to bid on a large, wood-framed project that we wouldn’t be framing until next summer,” he
      delays our production. The reason for the slowdown is that we can’t cram as many workers onto the sites as we have in the past.”
Tim Pelletier, president of Ray- mond R. Houle Construction, said it’s a common occurrence on a job site for a large number of people to work in
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