Well what can we say about the first quarter of 2020!?
For Multitech the year got off to a great, positive start when we once again held our annual staff safety conference on 2nd January. In attendance were our site teams, logistics personnel and managers who enjoyed presentations and updates from Directors, Senior Managers and outstanding guest speaker in Matt Hazelton.
Matt relayed his personal and very tragic story to the assembled teams and delivered a poignant reminder of the constant need for everyone on construction sites to work responsibly and safely at all times.
Multitech MD Guy Scilly's presentation depicted a true sense of post-Brexit optimism as he outlined the company's vision, hopes and expectations for the year ahead. Like many other businesses within the construction industry, Multitech was looking forward to the "colossal investment in UK infrastructure" promised by our newly appointed Prime Minister and the inherent upturn in business that the construction industry and the wider country would benefit from.
Projects that Multitech provide temporary services for include hospitals, schools and rail (including Crossrail and HS2) giving us valuable experience, demonstratable competence and long-standing client relationships. This, combined with our focus on safety and social responsibility, puts us in a strong position to win a share of the promised infrastructure work.
The first two months of 2020 saw Multitech win some excellent projects - a combination of repeat business and new customer enquiries following recommendations from existing clients. Things were on the up!
Then the media starting circulating news of an unknown, deadly flu-like virus spreading throughout a heavily populated city in Eastern China called Wuhan.
Allegedly originating from a food market, it was suspected that the Coronavirus (COVID-19) came from either a bat or possibly a Pangolin but with Brexit resolved the media were having a field day. Unsuspecting Brits watched without concern as the news focused on something over 5,000 miles away...
At the time of writing, the past six weeks have been very different from how we envisaged at the start of the year with the UK population and business world being tested in ways not before seen in our lifetime. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, before himself being admitted to intensive care with the deadly virus put the UK on lockdown, closed all non-essential businesses and restricted travel to key workers only.
The construction industry is being tested to the limits and received criticism from certain quarters fuelled by images of packed London underground trains with many passengers clearly being construction workers trying to earn a crust amidst the initial confusion.
Then came much-needed guidance and instruction around construction, directly from the heart of Government. The secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy the Right Honourable Alok Sharma wrote an open letter to the industry with a clear message of support. In the letter, he noted that "our country and our economy needs all our support". There was also clear instruction for sites to continue work as long as they were taking the necessary precautions and measures to ensure safe working conditions were achieved.
Further to that, construction workers could travel to their place of work. Concluding with a 'thank you again' to everyone operating in the UK construction sector and the following statement:
"You are making a hugely valued and critical contribution to the resilience of the nation and I salute you for the enormous efforts you are individually undertaking to support the UK economy".
At Multitech we have carefully considered the situation and taken the decision to continue working safely and responsibly where possible. We have rearranged our site teams and management to accommodate the change in working patterns and we are supporting clients who have chosen to remain operational during the crisis.
When working, we are only doing so in accordance with the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) and Public Health England P.H.E guidelines. Prior to work commencing we are requesting confirmation of the measures taken by our clients and that comprehensive, detailed risk assessments are carried out.
Like many businesses, we have increased our use of remote working supported by the latest technology to enable support staff to work from remote locations where their role makes this possible.
Both of our offices remain open with minimum personnel, enough to carry out essential functions to facilitate effective business operations including administration, logistics, stores and management.
In other news…
Health & Safety, Environment & Quality Management
The week preceding the lockdown we had our Integrated Management System re-certification audit. We are pleased to announce once again we successfully achieved ISO 14001 and ISO 9001. In addition to this, we have migrated from BS OHSAS 18001 to the new standard ISO 45001 having demonstrated consultation and active participation in all areas of our employees’ health, safety and wellbeing.
Thank you to our all people that have been involved in further developing our systems along with the auditing team from Alcumus
On 8th April we donated all of our surplus PPE safety glasses, gloves, sanitiser and much-needed respiratory face masks to Herts and Essex Community Hospital. In conversation with senior nursing staff, it was explained that many of the less experienced and junior care team members were finding it very difficult to operate in the current conditions. They were finding the combination of long shifts, unrelenting pressure and insufficient PPE very upsetting so our donation was very much appreciated.
Collectively we do feel like it's the best thing we have been able to do in recent weeks and we send every health worker, carer and the NHS our very best wishes.
The Easter break is now just around the corner it is going to feel very different this year in so many ways. We will not be able to visit friends and relatives, visit places of worship, get down to the gym or to the beach and other places of natural beauty or indeed visit that most venerable of British institutions, the Pub.
But whatever you are doing we wish you all a safe and Happy Easter.