Arena Events Group is a provider of temporary physical structures, seating, ice rinks, furniture and interiors to the events industry. Its head of health, safety and environment Alex Spinks looks back at how the company has worked for 11 months in the field without a single Covid case reported among its team or customers.
Many have asked how it was possible for Arena to deliver projects such as London Stadium [pictured] seating reconfiguration and the build of Edinburgh Rugby’s training stadium amidst the global pandemic.
Our track record thus far is zero reported cases of Covid-19 on any construction site or at any of the three live ice rink attractions, which ran from early December until we were forced to close on entering Tier 4, on 20 December. This period accounted for a quarter of a million worked hours for Arena crew. How were Arena able to deliver a zero-transmission rate for their employees or indeed the public, during their live ice rink attractions, where they welcomed over 75,000 customers through their doors, in the toughest of Tier 3 scenarios?
Here’s a little insight into how Arena has consistently delivered Covid-secure construction sites and live events since the virus arrived in March 2020.
Arena’s ability to react positively and quickly to the COVID -19 outbreak focussed on its leadership team’s knowledge of the standard ;hierarchy of controls’. This enabled the business to translate and implement risk management strategies into actions, to ensure the safety of our workforce during the peaks and troughs of the pandemic so far.
Eliminate the ability for transmission
From the first few cases back in February 2020, Arena was in planning mode, looking at which staff were critical to be in the workplace and on site, and removing the requirement for social contact by embracing and pro-actively developing new software solutions. Newly developed software solutions allowed Arena to plan and interact safely with its employees.
Immediately, surplus numbers of crew attending sites and locations were removed using strict criteria, which determined the necessary crew numbers for safety critical activities. This meant Arena had to be very clear with clients on extended build and de-rig times to ensure their expectations were met. Minimising staff travel and focusing on critical, minimal crew numbers also supported the environmental objectives of the business, by achieving fossil fuel and carbon reductions.
Reduce the potential for transmission
Time, distance, shielding and cleaning were the focus pillars of the plans to reduce the potential for transmission amongst those staff remaining in the workplace.
Tasks were planned to reduce the frequency and time workers were within two metres of each other, and PPE, including face coverings, was mandatory. Workers were appraised of the new rules and workstations were set up to promote working side-by-side or facing away from each other, rather than face to face. All employees used PPE, cleaning products and sanitising products to ensure that before and after they utilised equipment, workstations or canteen areas, they could provide a safe area for themselves and the next user.
Isolate potential infected employees
The development of a robust and adaptable cohort system ensured that teams did not mix and potentially spread the virus throughout the Arena business. These teams were standalone and kept as small as safety permitted – usually three. Inter-cohort mixing was managed, where needed, utilising face coverings, time restrictions and personnel placement. Usual concurrent activities, between trades and sub-contractors, were stopped and work schedules extended, with clear, two-way communication to clients in order to manage expectations.
Control the standards required to reduce transmission
All staff were kept up to date with changes in procedures through regular communications. Managers and supervisors ensured the continued adherence to required standards through positive interventions and proactive planning.
Where PPE, other than general face coverings, was required – some of the work Arena completed meant a higher risk of contact with the virus – suitable Respiratory Protective Equipment] was provided to teams. Essential training in its use was provided and all relevant staff completed professional ‘face fit’ testing. This not only ensured the equipment was suitable but also provided the employees with confidence in its ability to protect them.
Arena recognised, from the start of the pandemic, that the actions of their staff were paramount in the success of any project. The key to this was to encourage an open and collaborative approach between the leadership team and those working in the midst of the crisis. Therefore, Arena worked on, and will continue to do so, building trust in a system where any issues could be openly discussed and addressed, to promote a safe and positive environment.
Arena is proud to have continued to trade during this pandemic, with the safety of their customers and staff at the forefront of their actions, resulting in zero Covid-19 reported cases.