How construction sites carried on with their activities during the COVID-19 pandemic

Example: work done on the train station in Vitry – T2A project

Just like many other business lines, the construction industry adapted its organisation to ensure continued work on its sites whilst preserving its workers’ health in the face of the rapidly-progressive Covid-19.

Since last April, Omniscient has worked hand in hand with the R&D departments at Bouygues Construction and Bouygues Public Works, to provide additional solutions to the measures already implemented by on-site teams, such as wearing protective face masks. This solution was rolled out as a test within the train station work site in Vitry (T2A project).

To better understand how these measures were applied in-field, we gathered testimonies from 3 major stakeholders working on the Vitry train station project:

  • Jérémy Barbin, Works Manager in charge of site safety and ancillary works, and Qualified Service Technician – Horizon T2A project,
  • Philippe Richard – R&D Manager – Bouygues Construction,
  •  Antonio Caselles, Director of Operations for Omniscient.

During this unprecedented pandemic, what main measures were implemented to support the T2A project at the train station in Vitry?

Jérémy B.: “Our construction site was able to move forwards mostly thanks to social distancing. The main measures taken were as follows:

  • Instructions were given for moving around the site, to avoid crossing anyone’s path
  • Item placement instructions were given for each site zone, to comply with minimum distances
  • The teams’ timetables were staggered to avoid having too many people in the same zone.”

What role did the R&D department of Bouygues Construction play in supporting construction sites through Covid-19?

Philippe R.:  “The procedures and solutions implemented on our sites, at our head offices and in our agencies were determined by our Health & Safety departments, jointly with the workers – and proved to be extremely relevant and efficient. Thanks to these solutions, our site workers showed a great deal of resilience and a high level of responsibility during the pandemic. The R&D department at Bouygues Construction has always aimed to support its on-site teams, particularly when it came to resuming our activities, by identifying and centralising all available solutions and good practices, and by qualifying these solutions so additional measures could be suggested to teams according to their tasks and jointly with health & safety teams.”

What were the key factors to choosing Omniscient’s solution, and what does it bring construction sites during the sweeping Covid-19 pandemic?

Philippe R.: “We already knew about Omniscient through their construction site geolocation and resource management solutions, which made our exchanges easier. The reliability of the gathered information, their agility in adapting the solution to in-field uses, their responsiveness in the event of an incident, the ease with which it was rolled out by on-site teams, and the reasonable price were essential factors in our decision-making process.”

Jérémy B.:  “Omniscient’s solution is perfectly aligned with our desire to limit the number of people present in each site zone, and in a same room. It can be used to assess how efficient our organisational measures are. The display system is ideal for each person to know how many people are already in a designated zone before entering it.”

Antonio C.: “During the first lockdown, our team took quick action to support our customers in this very special time. Our approach was in no way aimed at replacing social distancing, but rather at boosting protection by offering occupancy measurement function, to: Inform site workers in real time of each zone’s occupancy rate, act quickly if the recommended number of people per zone was exceeded, and adapt timetables to avoid crowds.”

What were the experiment’s initial results?

Jérémy B.: “Unfortunately, having to equip each worker with a connected badge used to measure occupancy (in addition to their standard access badge) implied additional logistical organisation. Most importantly, workers were required to keep this badge on them (when switching outfits) at all times throughout the day, until they could hand it back to the night guard after their shift. We noticed that lots of badges were being left in the workers’ lockers when they changed outfits. This meant he results were somewhat distorted.”

Antonio C.: “Operational teams welcomes our solution warmly, and highlighted the workers’ commitment in the name of collective safety.

For this project to be launched, the system needed to guarantee worker anonymity. To do so, each person would collect their connected badge in the morning and return it in the evening. This made monitoring more complicated, but we have already identified a number of technical solutions to make sure the badge is worn, whilst preserving worker anonymity. This is the main advantage of quickly moving from lab to in-field trials: we create prototypes, face real-life use and make progress.”

Can you imagine any other uses for which the Omniscient tool would be relevant?

Philippe R.: “There are many, for instance – and we mentioned this when exchanging with operators – this kind of solution, which we tested in our site facilities to monitor occupancy, could also be perfectly relevant when used to measure occupancy and worker flow in extremely constrained zones, to make sure that in the event of an incident everyone was properly evacuated.”

Other experiments conducted jointly with the R&D department at Bouygues Construction are currently ongoing, namely in Asia. 1,800 workers will be fitted with sensors on a construction site with a 51-storey building in Singapore.

If someone on-site is contaminated, local authorities could request that the site be shut down and all workers would be forced to quarantine. The impact would be catastrophic in terms of work schedule. By adopting the solution developed by Omniscient, construction sites can accurately control any risk of contagion, and therefore secure production.



Discover our use case about the measurement of the number of people in the compound facilities and real-time detection of drifts