News

In pictures | One year of covid and construction

It’s now almost a year since Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the first coronavirus lockdown in the UK, ordering people to "stay at home" on 23 March 2020.

Initially, many construction sites and offices were also closed, but the industry was soon called upon to help with the rapid construction of coronavirus hospitals. Gradually, having reviewed the Construction Leadership Council’s Site Operating Procedures (now in its 7th version to take account of ever-evolving government guidance), many started to re-open in April and May.

The return to work was facilitated by radical changes in working that even a few weeks prior would have seemed unimaginable, including social distancing and new technology to encourage it, ‘bubbles’ of workers, and remote working enabled by digital technology to name just a few.

Throughout the year, those new ways of doing things have been captured in a series of arresting images. Here are just a few to show how life in construction has changed over the past 12 months.

After 23 March 2020, contractors suspended most operations leaving sites closed (image: Dreamstime)
After 23 March 2020, contractors suspended most operations leaving sites closed (image: Dreamstime).
With PPE for frontline workers in short supply, construction workers pitched in to manufacture visors, including JCB employee Joe Mumby
With PPE for frontline workers in short supply, construction workers pitched in to manufacture visors, including JCB employee Joe Mumby.
Staff at architecture firm Foster + Partners also started manufacturing plastic visors to protect health workers.
Meanwhile, a major effort to build overflow hospitals in public venues such as London’s Excel Centre and Cardiff’s Principality Stadium began. A joint venture between Sir Robert McAlpine and Vinci constructed a so-called Nightingale hospital in Manchester’s Central Conference Centre.
A Mott Macdonald worker surveys a new ward at the Dragon’s Heart hospital in Cardiff where the company was project manager, lead designer, cost consultant and employer agent for Cardiff and Vale University Health Board.
Stadium view of the Dragon's Heart hospital in Cardiff (Image © JennyBPhotography.co.uk.)
Stadium view of the Dragon’s Heart hospital in Cardiff (Image © JennyBPhotography.co.uk.)
Contractors trialled new technology in order to bring workers back to site safely. Here, Interserve employees used personnel distancing systems (PDS) from SiteZone Safety which feature wearable tags that vibrate if workers get too close to each other.
Laing O’Rourke’s specialist plant business Select developed thermal imaging cameras to check workers’ temperature before they entered sites.
Willmott Dixon Interiors workers enjoy a socially distanced lunch at the site canteen in Gresham Street, London.
Premier Modular won a multi-million-pound contract to provide modular buildings for 25 covid-19 testing sites across the UK. The first buildings arrived on site in Bolton and opened the following afternoon.
On construction sites around the country, social distancing and covid-19 protocols are now the norm. Here, NG Bailey staff are pictured at the Manchester Town Hall project.

Story for CM? Get in touch via email: [email protected]

Latest articles in News