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Barry, S, Cronin, W, Spillane, J P and Bradley, J G (2021) Compliance with COVID-19 Regulations in Micro-Enterprises and SMEs in the Irish Construction Sector. In: Scott, L and Neilson, C J (Eds.), Proceedings 37th Annual ARCOM Conference, 6-7 September 2021, UK, Association of Researchers in Construction Management, 209-218.

  • Type: Conference Proceedings
  • Keywords: Keywords: COVID-19, pandemic, Irish Construction Sector, micro-enterprises, SMEs, compliance, restrictions, behaviour and attitude, confined space work, guidelines
  • URL: http://www.arcom.ac.uk/-docs/proceedings/b9ec0e510ad565511148c726d07d51c9.pdf
  • Abstract:

    In Ireland, the construction sector has such major influence on growth and economic stability that construction companies were able to restart operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, albeit with the development and implementation of a set of regulations by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) and the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) to facilitate the safe return to work on sites across Ireland. The introduction of regulations is the first step in the provision of safe working conditions in relation to the pandemic and this research addresses the need to examine the functionality of, and compliance with such regulations. It should be noted that due to the nature of the pandemic, it would be the case that the regulations will be changing due to the emergence of virus variants, infection rates, and vaccination levels so this pilot study essentially takes a 'snapshot' that examines the suitability and compliance with regulations as currently imposed on the Irish construction sector. The study exclusively focused on staff working in micro and small to medium enterprises (m/SMEs) from mid-November to mid-December 2020. Interviews, centred around a 53-part questionnaire, were completed with 30 participants from 27 construction companies. Initial findings indicated the level of compliance with the regulations to be much lower than expected due to issues such as employee behaviour, difficulty in breaking of old habits and lack of supervisory personnel. Findings also indicate that 70% of participants found conflict between the new regulations for safe working relating to the pandemic and current Health and Safety procedures, listing issues such as worker isolation, manual handling issues and obstruction of both visibility and communication by facemasks. Typically, the responsibility for implementation and enforcement of the regulations has fallen into the remit of the Health and Safety personnel in the companies. The research, limited only to companies in the Irish construction sector, has raised many questions about the suitability of the current regulations and warrants further investigation as to why micro-enterprises and SMEs have difficulty with compliance.