It appears from the daily news that over the next few months COVID-19 is likely to have a significant impact on the way we live our lives. There are suggestions of mass gatherings being stopped, schools closing, travel being restricted or stopped and many people becoming ill.
The construction industry is one which requires people to be present on site, fit enough to do whatever work they are doing. There is no option for site based operatives to work from home. Further, materials still need to be manufactured and eventually delivered to site.
It is not inconceivable that in the near future site operations (and possibly head office operations) will become challenging as a result of personnel not being available. This could affect all parts of the supply chain, including material supply.
This could lead to management and financial stresses to businesses which might be unavoidable. It is therefore worth considering the steps that might be taken if this eventuality arises.
Where to start?
As a starting point it would be worth reviewing the terms of your various contracts to assess where the risk lies in certain circumstances. For example, if you are a contractor and site personnel and subcontractors are unable to operate on site, is there a contractual mechanism to help you? It may be there is a force majeure clause in the contract? Depending on the circumstances you may be able to rely on that clause for some relief.
Your contract may require you to give notices of events which delay or disrupt the works. Now would be a good time to refresh your memory about those clauses and be ready to issue any such notices.
You may have insurance which covers some of the risks – for example business continuity insurance. Again now would be a good time to review those policies or perhaps contact your insurance broker for their guidance on the extent of coverage. You need to be ready to notify your insurer if an insured event occurs.
Thinking about and preparing for some of this now might make the difference if the COVID-19 predictions materialise.