Natural disasters can have a devastating effect on our personal and professional lives both short and long term. In this article, we’ll be looking at the impact of natural disasters on construction sites.
Natural disasters are something that we can plan for but not prevent. Because of this, they can have a devastating effect on our personal and professional lives; leaving people homeless and without their workspaces.
Construction companies should seek advice from professionals in order to insure against occurrences like this. What’s more, those who are making use of a construction company for a renovation or build should also look into this, especially in areas where natural disasters can occur. Legal services for the construction industry involve providing advice about insurance for a construction business.
The question is, how badly can a natural disaster affect a construction project? In this article, we’ll examine the impact that natural disasters have on construction sites.
What Are Natural Disasters?
These are events which are caused by nature and, depending on where you live, can include:
These events can be unpredictable, and it’s rarely possible to control the impact that they will have on our daily lives.
How Do Natural Disasters Impact Construction Sites?
Because construction sites are largely outdoors, they have little protection against natural disasters. In this article, we’ll examine some of the ways in which construction sites can be affected:
The average construction site contains tools and equipment worth thousands of pounds. During a natural disaster, such as a flood or a severe storm, this equipment can be lost or damaged, resulting in the need for replacement. While all construction sites should be insured, the entire cost of the damage or loss may not be covered, leaving the company out of pocket.
We’ve already mentioned that a construction site contains a lot of tools and equipment, all of which should be secured when not in use. During a natural disaster, there is a possibility of these tools causing personal injury – for example, if a tool is not secured and becomes a projectile during high winds, it could have the potential to cause injury – which could result in a costly personal injury claim for the company. This was highlighted in June of this year when two construction workers were killed in Iran after being thrown from a crane platform during a severe dust storm.
In many cases, a natural disaster will cause a construction site to be unsafe for workers. This can cause delays to a project which can, ultimately, cost the company a huge amount of money as well as losing the company future work due to the delays.
Delays and downtime can be devastating for a construction company as many of these need to work to strict deadlines in order to turn a profit.
In some instances, a natural disaster can result in the depletion of resources required by a construction site. For example, if an area is struck by wildfires, this can have an impact on the supply of timber. As a result, the construction site manager may have to source this timber from elsewhere at an inflated price due to increased demand.
In severe cases, a natural disaster can result in people losing their homes, thereby needing to relocate. For a construction site, this can often mean that the number of qualified members of staff available within the region can be depleted. This can cause delays with a project when there are not enough construction employees available.
Destruction of site
While all of the points in this article have a serious impact on a construction site, the worst case scenario may be the destruction of the site itself. Fire, flood and hurricanes can all decimate a construction site, making it permanently unusable. This will cause severe disruption and cost to the company.
Protecting Against Natural Disasters
With the best will in the world, it’s probably not possible to prevent any damage or loss. However, construction site managers can help to protect their business in a few ways, including:
- Equipment: Construction site tools and equipment should always be properly secured when not in use, and employees should be trained to do so. Equipment should also be insured against loss and damage to minimise risk.
- Weatherproofing: Floodgates and sandbags can help to protect equipment from flood damage
- Emergency plan: Construction site managers should always have emergency plans in place with respect to natural disasters, and these plans should be clearly communicated to all site employees. Amongst other things, the emergency plan should include evacuation procedures to ensure that staff can safely leave the site during a natural disaster.
Staying Safe on Construction Sites During Natural Disasters
In the UK we don’t, thankfully, have to worry too much about hurricanes and tsunamis. However, fire, floods and strong winds can all wreak havoc on a construction site if the correct measures are not taken.
Making sure that tools and equipment are stored and secured properly not only protects that equipment against damage. It could also save the construction company a lot of money, as well as a loss of reputation, should those tools cause injury to an employee or member of the public during severe weather.
It is the responsibility of the site manager to ensure that they are aware of any dangers that may be presented by natural disasters. The site manager should always, therefore, conduct risk assessments and emergency plans which will allow them to protect their site to the best of their ability. This way, they can quickly perform damage control in the event of a natural disaster.