Ryman Healthcare’s five Auckland construction sites have returned to work after more than a month in Level 4 lockdown.
The sound of power tools, crane alarms and workers whistling was a welcome change to the silence on site of the previous five weeks.
The sites now join Ryman’s other sites in Christchurch and Havelock North which have been enjoying a Level 2 working environment for several weeks now.
While each of the Auckland sites – William Sanders in Devonport, Miriam Corban in Henderson, Keith Park in Hobsonville, Murray Halberg in Lynfield and the newest one on Killarney Street, Takapuna – had COVID-19 protocols in place already, these have all been tightened up again to meet the Level 3 requirements.
Workers already had to sign a declaration answering questions around symptoms and whether or not they have had contact with border workers but now temperature checks, mask-wearing and social distancing have been re-introduced again.
A new question has been added to the declarations too, relating to workers’ vaccination status.
Devonport Project Manager Matt Bell said there had been a really high take up of the vaccination amongst the Ryman team which was ‘pleasing’.
“A lot of our sub-contractors have had either their first or second vaccination too which is reassuring,” he said.
It was a similar story at Keith Park in Hobsonville with Assistant Project Manager Ricky Ciobanu saying vaccination rates amongst the 80 or so workers on site were high.
A big challenge, however, was regaining the momentum that had been lost due to the site being closed.
“Covid lockdowns combined with market delays from a pause on manufacturing means we can’t predict when materials will be delivered,” Ricky said.
While some of the Hobsonville team could focus on planning while others were redeployed in the villages to do all the extra deliveries required, some of the work done on site will have to be re-done.
A large amount of rain during that time meant mud had leeched back into the sites that had been excavated and so would need to be dug out again.
Back at work on the village centre at Miriam Corban above and below.
At Miriam Corban, on Lincoln Road in Henderson, (pictured above) Site Manager Joe Won said there had been a little anxiety amongst the team members about returning to work while there were still Covid cases being identified in the community, but one factor had given reassurance.
“It’s a little comforting that I’ve been fully vaccinated and before returning to work 100% of the Ryman team have completed their full vaccination.
“We are also encouraging our subcontractors to vaccinate at our daily pre-start meetings,” he said.
Expecting Level 3 alert levels to be in place for a while, Joe said they had prioritised setting up the environment with appropriate facilities, systems and signage that would stay in place indefinitely.
At Lynfield’s Murray Halberg site, Project Manager Ross Duxfield said the team was glad to be back on site and were already geared up for a big concrete pour the following day.
“We’re grateful to be back at work and being able to get back into making things happen on site.
“We have placed pre-cast panels and completed preparation for a large concrete slab pour for tomorrow (Friday) and are nearly at full capacity on site with 60 workers.”
Ross said staggered start times and smoko times and smaller groups for pre-start meetings had also been introduced at their site, although it had subdued the interactions between members of the team compared to pre-lockdown.
Nevertheless, he said: “All the team seem to be in good spirits and we’re learning how to smile with our masks on!”