New safety protocols for highway projects
Work is back underway on most state highway projects around the country as construction crews adjust to new health and safety protocols.
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency says it is inevitable that completion dates for many projects will be affected by the unprecedented impact of COVID-19.
General Manager Transport Services Brett Gliddon says while everything possible will be done to make up ground, with no work able to be carried out for five of the remaining ten weeks of the warm-weather construction season and much more restrictive health and safety work methods now in place, some project delays will be unavoidable.
“The safety of workers and road users is our top priority, and we’ve worked with contractors to develop specific COVID-19 plans for every one of our work sites.
“Work in the COVID-19 environment does not look like pre-pandemic work. A range of new measures are now in place, including restricted access to sites, requirements for workers to maintain physical distancing, recording information for contact tracing and the use of additional protective clothing.
“All of these measures are vital, but they do affect how quickly our people can work. We’re committed to getting New Zealand moving again, but we can’t compromise on the safety of road workers or of road users.”
Brett says the wider impacts of Covid-19, including disruptions to supply chains and restrictions on inter-regional and international travel would also have a flow-on effect on the delivery of capital projects.
In spite of the many challenges posed by the response to COVID-19, Brett says good progress has been made getting Waka Kotahi projects back up and running.
“Re-starting work on these projects after five weeks of ‘tools down’ and with a whole new way of working has been a massive job.
"We estimate that we now have about 70 per cent of people back on site, compared to what we would expect the workforce to be without the effects of COVID-19. By next week we anticipate being back up to 80 per cent.”
Brett says while Waka Kotahi is still determining the impact of COVID-19 for the expected completion dates of many projects, updated information for individual projects will be published as soon as it becomes available.
For the latest information on state highway projects see here.
For Further information on the resumption of state highway work see our Q&A’s here.
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