Street Works UK publishes new report for members reflecting on the lessons learned from COVID-19
The street works industry, like every other, has been drastically affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Street Works UK has developed a new report providing an in-depth reflection into the way the industry has reacted, and adapted, to the challenges faced since March 2020. Notwithstanding existing and further waves of COVID, our report attempts to summarise the lessons we can take from our experiences so far, so that we can be better prepared for any future events such as this. The key takeaway from the pandemic centres around the importance of communication, not only between those working directly within the street works industry but also between external stakeholders including government and local authorities.
Regular meetings between key industry decision makers from the outset of the pandemic set a strong tone for the drum beat of communication throughout the first lockdown and beyond, and allowed for the sharing of critical information and examples of best practice, aiding in the evasion of potential problems. The distribution of regular COVID bulletins enabled the effective dissemination of guidance to utility companies, and the establishment of forums allowed for greater ease and efficiency in raising awareness and addressing challenges faced by those conducting street works.
The pandemic demonstrated there is significant willingness and energy throughout utilities and local authorities to work collaboratively to address challenges that emerge. It also reiterated the differing approaches that regions and authorities across the UK can take, creating an often fractured operating environment for large and national utility businesses. Where there is clear recognition of the importance of infrastructure being delivered, members were able to continue undertaking nationally important works in a safe way, but on occasions would face local challenge.
The lessons and approaches brought to light in the wake of the pandemic are a blueprint for the future of a more collaborative, responsive and effective relationship with local authorities from top to bottom. Street Works UK commends the work of all utilities, contractors and local authorities in facing up to the challenges of the pandemic, and looks forward to cementing and building on the gains outlined in our paper.