A series of daily Covid-19 update webinars hosted by the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) has reinforced the message that building services specialists are carrying out crucial work to support the nation’s essential services.
Online attendance grew steadily throughout the first week of the webinars, peaking last Friday when the system was over-subscribed with more than 650 delegates trying to get online. BESA is now hoping to extend the platform so that more delegates can sign up for this week’s series, which runs daily at 12 noon.
David Frise, chief executive of BESA, who chaired the webinars, said: “We have learned a tremendous amount from the experts who have given their time to keep us informed – and the overriding message was: if you want essential services (like hospitals, supermarkets and care homes) – you need building services.”
Topics to be covered this week will include analysis of the economic impact of the crisis from the Construction Products Association and a presentation on the direct technical response to the airborne threat posed by the Covid-19 virus from BESA’s Health & Wellbeing in Buildings group.
Among the highlights from last week, delegates heard from an official at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) who confirmed the special status of building services engineers.
He told the webinar that building maintenance should continue as normal, subject to compliance with Public Health England guidance, the government’s social distancing policy and the site operating guidance published by the Construction Leadership Council.
He added that building maintenance was helping to save lives and that “people who fix crucial safety issues in buildings, including plumbers maintaining boilers for the elderly and vulnerable, must be able to keep working. They are carrying out important work”.
Webinar attendees also heard confirmation that heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are “part of the solution and not part of the problem” and that rumours about air conditioning helping to circulate the virus had no foundation in science.
During a financial update session, BESA’s legal and commercial director Debbie Petford advised contractors to review their contracts so that supply chains could work together to manage inevitable delays to projects.
She said firms should confirm the correct method for notifying delays under the terms of their contract. She added that many contractors were now entering into deeds of suspension with their clients where both parties agree to suspend their obligations and work out how to apportion risk.
For details of this week’s webinar go here.