The speed at which our construction teams are mobilising and then pulling together to deliver Covid-19 surge hospitals presents many challenges, not least in making sure everyone stays safe.
Health & Safety Advisor Stuart Longsdale shares his insight into the pressures involved and the collaborative spirit that has proven so crucial to the success of our IHP joint venture teams on the Manchester and Preston surge centres.
What, for you, is the most impressive aspect of the Nightingale Hospitals?
Without a doubt it’s the will to deliver, from everyone from clinicians through to suppliers.
It’s been a complete privilege to be working on projects which will be so critical to the wellbeing of so many. And being a Mancunian, it has given me great pride to work on a temporary project that will nonetheless be a part of Manchester’s history forever.
What is your role for IHP on the Nightingale Hospitals?
It’s similar to my normal role in that I’m helping make sure the site is safe and developing the safety documentation and mandatory requirements, but obviously in a very different set of circumstances to normal.
The requirement to start on these projects came from out of the blue; on the Manchester Nightingale we got 12 hours’ notice to mobilise and subcontractors and suppliers were arriving at site almost immediately.
So, in a situation like that it’s about making sure that we follow the legal and company requirements, and that we still have a safe working environment, despite the emergency nature of the projects.
What is your typical working day like at the moment?
To be honest, the days all blur into one at the moment, and there just aren’t enough hours. The project we’re on just now is creating a hospital within a sports hall in Preston. Time is at a premium, and we have guidance on proximity and hygiene to consider too, so even relatively simple tasks in normal circumstances become quite complex on these projects.
How has life changed for you over the past couple of weeks?
Beyond description really. Time seems to have shifted and hours now seem to go by in minutes!
Have you learned anything which you or SRM can benefit from in the future?
Watching how the military assess risk and make decisions has been amazing, but they are used to making judgement calls in the heat of battle, where often the choices are between a number of highly hazardous options. Nonetheless, with time to reflect, I’m sure that there will be things we can take away from their approach.