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Implementation challenges of COVID-19 safety measures at construction sites in South Africa

Christopher Amoah (Department of Quantity Surveying and Construction Management, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa)
Fredrick Simpeh (Department of Quantity Surveying and Construction Management, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa)

Journal of Facilities Management

ISSN: 1472-5967

Article publication date: 2 December 2020

Issue publication date: 22 January 2021

Abstract

Purpose

The COVID-19 pandemic drastically changed safety measures in every industry, including the construction industry. Thus, the construction companies have instituted safety measures at the construction sites to curve the disease’s spread among the workforce. This paper aims to examine the challenges encountered by construction firms in implementing COVID-19 safety measures at construction sites.

Design/methodology/approach

A qualitative research approach was adopted for this study using open-ended interview questions to solicit data from 19 construction professionals currently working on a construction project in South Africa. Content analysis with the assistance of an Excel spreadsheet was used to analyse the data collected.

Findings

The findings indicate that there are numerous challenges such as ignorance of COVID-19, the supply of poor personal protective equipment (PPEs) by contractors, lack of compliance, sanitising construction materials, difficulty in sharing tools and equipment, public transport usage by workers, superstition (COVID-19 is for a particular group of people), complying with social distancing rules, among others in the implementation of the COVID-19 safety measure at the construction site to curb the spread of the disease among the workers. These challenges have, therefore, hampered their effort to strictly adhere to the safety measures in accordance with the COVID-19 safety protocol at the project sites currently under construction.

Research limitations/implications

The interviewees were construction professionals working in the South African construction industry during the COVID-19 period.

Practical implications

The implication is that, due to the challenges faced in implementing the COVID-19 safety measures, workers on the construction site are not adequately protected from contracting COVID-19. The workers may thus contract the disease at the project sites and transmit it to their families and vice versa, which may have further implications on the spread of the disease within the communities and society.

Originality/value

The study has identified implementation challenges of the COVID-19 safety measures at construction sites of which the construction stakeholders must institute measures to overcome since COVID-19 has become part of our daily life. The study also recommends some preventive measures to the owners of construction companies to help overcome or minimise these COVID-19 safety implementation hurdles to minimise the spread of the disease among the construction site workers.

Keywords

Citation

Amoah, C. and Simpeh, F. (2021), "Implementation challenges of COVID-19 safety measures at construction sites in South Africa", Journal of Facilities Management, Vol. 19 No. 1, pp. 111-128. https://doi.org/10.1108/JFM-08-2020-0061

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited