Rick Willmott: Why Willmott Dixon is keeping sites open

Willmott Dixon chief executive Rick Willmott has issued a statement confirming that the firm’s sites will remain open outlining its approach to ensure the health and wellbeing of staff and customers are safeguarded amidst the coronavirus crisis.

Rick Willmott: Why Willmott Dixon is keeping sites open

Rick Willmott

In an online message to staff and suppliers Mr Willmott: “In this time of national emergency, many things that seemed important just a week ago are now irrelevant as we focus our business on tackling the threat posed to our society by COVID-19.

“These are unprecedented times and I appreciate the huge impact this will be having on all our lives for the foreseeable future. Our focus now is to ensure we continue operating effectively while safeguarding the health and wellbeing being of our people, supply chain, customers and everyone connected to the Willmott Dixon family.

“Nothing we do will compromise this, and I wanted to outline the actions Willmott Dixon is taking to follow the government’s guidance for reducing the spread of COVID-19 while continuing to support our customers and supply chain during this difficult period.

“We are doing everything we can to ensure we have continuity of business, while heeding the very latest government advice. We monitor this daily and adapt our procedures and messaging immediately to any changes that are required.

“Responding to the Prime Minister’s statement on 23 March, most of our office-based people now work from home and avoid unnecessary travel unless it is essential they visit the office. Thanks to the very latest technology, our teams can seamlessly share information and meet virtually in order to continue functioning effectively.

“For construction projects, the government made it clear that construction and manufacturing are two key sectors that must continue working, a point emphasised by communities secretary Robert Jenrick who said on Twitter, ‘If you can work from home, do so. If you are working on site, you can continue to do so. But follow Public Health England guidance on social distancing’. The point about construction remaining open for business was further reinforced on BBC1 breakfast news by minister for the cabinet office Michael Gove.

“We want to support the government and our customers for as long as possible, and we will be reviewing this on a daily basis.

“The safety of people on sites is our number one priority. All projects must adhere to the Construction Leadership Council’s Site Operating Procedures to ensure social distancing requirements are met and minimise the risk of spread of infection. We have rigorous procedures in place to ensure everyone on site follows these measures, which very much falls within our existing H&S protocols governing safe site activity and will be enforced as such.

“The need to work two metres apart requires cooperation and understanding, and our teams are working closely with supply chain partners and other stakeholders to agree practices and programmes so we continue to operate in a safe environment.

“If activity on-site needs to temporarily reduce or pause to enable time for that collaboration and implementation, our teams are instructed and empowered to take that step.

“Other stringent protocols in place include temperature validation prior to entry, providing hand sanitiser either side of turnstile gates with clear signage for people to use it before and after using fingerprint recognition to gain access; alongside the basics of widely available hand sanitiser, hygiene guidance and clear signage.

“I work closely with my senior team to monitor the evolving situation to ensure we have the right level of resource required for each site along with a reliable supply of materials. To provide resilience we have consistent arrangements across the country for alternating the attendance of project team members.

“We appreciate the huge contribution of our supply chain to our business and are working closely with them so they can maintain a level of service despite the challenge to operations created by COVID-19. Each of our site team understands the pressures our suppliers face and are supportive in how we help them through this difficult time.

“We know how important cash flow is to the lifeblood of any business and as one of the construction industry’s more prompt payers, our supply chain partners will continue to benefit from their relationship with us, never has mutual reliance been more important.

“As one of the longest established UK contractors with a strong family culture and associated values we are entirely focused on doing the right things for our people, our customers and our supply chain, you are all vital to our sustainable success.

“While there may have been fewer challenges of the magnitude of COVID-19 to our business and way of life, we have well established built-in resilience and ability to adapt in the face of the current chaos. The coming weeks are going to be tough, and Team Willmott Dixon are focused on providing our normal quality of service to customers while taking all necessary measures to combat COVID-19.

“We must all pull together to support each other through this crisis, and on a personal note, I hope you, your family, friends and colleagues remain safe and well.”

  • Read all of our articles relating to COVID-19 here.
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