Like many contractors, Painting and Decorating company Bagnalls often encounters challenges posed by working near the public. Commercial businesses and public institutions need to be able to run successfully without any impediments, so it is a contractor’s duty to understand the risks posed by members of the public and learn how to minimise them.
Healthcare Considerations Set the Standard
Consider the healthcare environment – where between patients and visitors there is generally always someone from the public present. The health and safety of the public is therefore a principle consideration: not just how your activity might impact them directly, but how your presence may disrupt staff from administering care.
For Bagnalls, their work begins with a consultation with their customer. They use this to build a project timescale that limits or avoids public intrusions – such as outside of visiting hours or during a ward closure. They also have to audit their materials, as solvent-based paints may cause issues for patients. Slow-drying paint is also a problem, so often Bagnalls must select a faster drying solution so that when the public returns to the ward they don’t encounter wet paint. Ventilation is also a key factor that must be assessed and incorporated on every job – but is especially vital in healthcare.
For contractors in general, these two practices are great ideas. Speak to your customer and see if there is a way you can work around their schedule to find times when the public are either minimised or absent from the site. Ensure the tools and materials you bring on site won’t cause further harm, especially to vulnerable patients in healthcare environments.
The medical environment is realistically the ‘gold standard’ of contractor considerations when it comes to managing the public. If you can adopt a good system for the medical sector, you will likely be able to employ good practice elsewhere.
General Site Considerations
If you are working on an outdoor site that attracts heavy public traffic such as a tourist attraction or high street, it’s important to cordon the area off and include lots of visible warnings to prevent any accidents or harm to the public. Discuss the job with your customer to assess peak times – and then plan to avoid work over school holidays or weekends, for example.
Bagnalls operate with a tidy site policy, where they ensure their working area is kept clean. This both limits trip hazards and avoids any negative perception from the public. Ultimately, the role of contractors is to improve a customer’s business rather than hinder it.
Access is also a principle consideration. Deliveries must be able to reach a customer’s premises, so often you may need to plan works around delivery schedules. Disability ramps must also remain unobstructed. Consider your work vehicles – parking them away from the site may require more manual lifting of tools and equipment, but parking in a way that obstructs a customer’s business or causes issues for the public will have a negative impact on your brand.
For Bagnalls, the site’s condition post-works is also important. The public and your customer will likely have a negative perception around your brand if you leave mess or unsightly elements behind. Clear a site and leave it better than when you commenced work.
As an example of all of these elements, Bagnalls worked on a project where a customer needed access all through the day. To work the site, the contractor waited until 9pm and then closed the road, limiting access to the public. Whilst working, the team worked from boards on grass which meant gradual wear and tear was caused. In order to ensure the job was well received, Bagnalls re-grassed the area upon completion and reopened all roads.
Richard Britten, Main Board Director at Bagnalls, sums up the approach all contractors should consider: “We try to operate without being seen, whilst staying safe and being virtually invisible wherever possible. Our job is to be there, but not to be there, if you understand the meaning.”
Ultimately, for contractors to operate more efficiently around the public you need to assess the following:
- Peak hours of pedestrian traffic.
- Delivery schedules.
- Busy periods such as school holidays.
- Site-specific considerations such as access, location and layout.
- Restoration of site following works – leave it tidier than when you began.
This article is provided by Painting and Decorating company Bagnalls