A controlled reopening of the local construction industry will start Tuesday, 19 May following the last two weeks of COVID-19 frontline testing. The Cayman Islands Government says this decision paves the way for work to begin on approved construction sites following Department of Planning inspections and health screenings.
Premier Alden McLaughlin has called the construction and development industry “key” in helping kick start and support the local economy for the foreseeable future as revenue from tourism is not expected in the Cayman Islands until at least September.
Dart President Development Delivery & Infrastructure Cameron Graham agrees projects have a major role to play in stimulating the Cayman Islands economy.
“We have been ready and prepared to resume several of our projects and ongoing real estate development efforts once government deemed it safe to do so. Together with our colleagues in the industry, we will work to help the Cayman Islands on the collective road to recovery in the post-COVID-19 era,” said Graham. “We have been working with other local developers to give the Cayman Islands Government input in creating new COVID-19 protocols to keep employees as safe as possible as we re-open construction sites.”
Graham said Dart’s construction projects that were in the works before the global virus impact landed in the Cayman Islands will now resume. “Over the next couple of years, our projects such as the expansion of the Cayman International School and two new buildings in Camana Bay, one residential and one an office building, will not only support local businesses but will also provide much-needed employment for hundreds in the Cayman Islands.”
Dart’s currently active projects alone are expected to help put around 800 people back to work on construction sites and inject US$115 million into the economy.
“In addition to employment, construction projects can also create commerce for a number of business entities that support development work, such as companies that sell construction materials or rent heavy equipment, as well as providing wages for the employees to spend in the local economy,” said Graham. “We also know that construction and development activity can also provide the government with revenue in the form of import duties, work permit fees and stamp duties on the sale or lease of property. These are all reasons why we are keen to roll up our sleeves and get back to the physical work of construction.”
Government’s controlled reopening of the construction sector for final inspections, active projects, and commercial and multi-family buildings will begin with site inspections and virus testing starting Tuesday. The aim is to test around 3,200 people over the next two weeks for sites to resume work.
As a result, Dart’s active projects can begin the phased process for site work to resume, following new health and safety protocols based on extensive research and continuing its long-established ethos of “safety first.” All workers on any of its construction sites will be required to adhere to Dart’s “Stay Healthy" guidance document for their health and safety.
"We want to make every effort to create a safe work environment for the workers on our sites by promoting best practices to avoid the spread of germs," said Dart Senior Vice President Design & Construction Gary Gibbs.
Dart’s “Stay Healthy” guidance document is based on the latest research available and emphasises the need for contractors and their employees to embrace COVID-19 safety as a priority. It requires contractors and their employees to adhere to specific training, social-distancing and health assessments so that workers are kept as safe as possible.
In addition to safety requirements for the workers, Dart has taken steps to ensure the construction sites are safe as well. These steps include, but are not limited to, the provision of Site Entry Health Checks, provision of trained and designated COVID-19 compliance personnel, additional hand sanitisers, the installation of handwashing facilities, and more frequent cleaning of high use areas such as restrooms and eating areas.
"We are also staggering start times, break times and lunch times to prevent overcrowding and to ensure that social distancing is maintained," said Gibbs. "We acknowledge these measures will require employees to take extra time during their day to practice COVID-19 protocols, and we want all individuals to take the time needed to plan their work and implement safe work practices. By doing this, we can collectively ensure that we are making our job sites as safe as possible."
Dart has allocated resources for a COVID-19 Compliance Team, which will be trained and deployed to monitor construction sites and report on worker welfare and site activities, ensuring that the guidelines are maintained.
There are three specific development projects that were underway in Camana Bay before the shelter-in-place order shut down the construction sites. The high school element of the US$60 million expansion of Cayman International School was more than halfway completed, while a 10-storey, 89-unit, for-lease residential building and another office building had just begun. All of those projects will recommence after government allows construction activity to resume in a phased and safe approach.
Dart President Real Estate Asset Management Justin Howe says Dart’s focus on sustainable design and building is what makes its projects stand out, a quality that will be even more sought-after in a post-COVID-19 world.
"If it’s one silver lining we can draw from this virus experience, is that it has forced us to take stock of what’s important in our lives - our loved ones, the environment, making sustainability a focal point for many," said Howe. “From design to construction, safety and sustainability are woven throughout Dart’s development projects, so there is confidence in knowing that purchasing or leasing from us means a top-quality product that takes into consideration sustainable design, connectivity and energy efficiency. This will do its part in helping keep the Cayman Islands on firm economic footing.”
In addition to the Camana Bay projects, the consortium led by Decco has already resumed work on the remediation test pad at the George Town Landfill. This will inform placement techniques for full landfill capping and covering operations.
Another project close to Camana Bay, OLEA — a joint venture with the NCB Group that consists of 124 for-sale townhomes and duplexes — will also resume work.
Dart will not only restart and complete the projects underway, Howe said, but will also look at the feasibility of several other projects.
“We are actively exploring some incredibly exciting new opportunities and are confident they will drive future economic activity in the Cayman Islands,” he said.
Safety requirements at Dart construction sites:
Attend Dart’s site specific COVID-19 training and site induction information session.
Practice social-distancing, limit interactions and touchpoints, including a "no handshake" policy.
Stay at home if feeling ill and seek the advice of a medical professional.
Eliminate large gatherings such as site coordination meetings and require smaller meetings to be held outside under open-air tents to allow for social-distancing.
Identify workers who are high-risk (65 years of age or older; experiencing serious, chronic medical conditions such as: heart disease, diabetes or lung disease; or cohabiting with such a person) and recommend that they self-isolate until the threat of contracting the virus has passed.
Sequence works with other trades to ensure areas are not congested and social distancing is maintained.
Take appropriate action if any site employees are experiencing flu-like or other COVID-19 symptoms.
Perform risk assessments for specific tasks and utilise appropriate Personal Protective Equipment to suit the job at hand.
Acknowledge that if the task cannot be performed safely, then the task cannot be performed.
Follow distancing guidelines in relation to transportation to and from work.
Keep Dart appraised of any illnesses or self-isolation/quarantine within the construction teams.
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