Competing general contractors are sharing information more than ever before, especially about ways to keep workers safe during the pandemic. They are posting photos, best practices and toolbox talks on their websites and sharing ideas on webinars and conference calls to offer solutions that can benefit the industry.
This collaboration has been central to the industry’s quick reaction to keeping sites healthy and operational in an unprecedented and fast-changing situation, according to Mike Benike, executive vice president at Rochester, Minnesota-based Benike Construction.
“It’s amazing that only little more than a month ago many construction sites did not have anything different in place and now the procedures are completely different and continuing to change every day,” he said during a recent COVID-19 webinar sponsored by Destination Medical Center, a public-private economic initiative in Rochester, Minnesota, that is overseeing $5.6 billion of growth centered around the Mayo Clinic.
Panelist Troy Blizzard, vice president of operations at Mortenson, said he’s seen contractors in his Minneapolis market collaborate like never before.
“It’s absolutely been a theme of all this that we’re all in this together and we’ve got to share best practices, he said. “It’s all about ‘What are you doing and what have you seen to help business?’ in what is usually a very competitive environment.”
General contractors are working closely with owners, subs, and suppliers to stay abreast of the latest developments and find solutions to shared problems, Rosendin Vice President of Safety Marty Rouse told Construction Dive.
When the U.S. outbreak started, Rosendin worked with several other subs and construction companies to devise a set of safety protocols for job sites. The program, shaped by information from the National Electrical Contractors Association, includes guidelines for respirator usage, social distancing measures and what to expect from general contractors.
Rouse said a team approach to taking responsibility for fighting the epidemic on job sites is crucial.
“We’re all in this together.”
Associations promote collaboration
Associations have also filled a crucial role in promoting the collective good of the industry during the pandemic. For instance, within days of the coronavirus appearing in the U.S., safety staff at the Associated General Contractors of Washington State had prepared a toolbox talk with guidelines about how to keep workers and job sites safe. After cases started appearing in New York state, the AGC chapter there quickly developed a three-part webinar series to help prepare its members for what was to come.