While much of the first few weeks of the current crisis has focussed on the rapid redeployment of industry capacity under a completely new operating strategy, we are beginning to consider the practical issues project delivery and professional practice while social distancing. Field reviews, consultation processes, and practice supervision are more challenging in an environment where we cannot be together in person.
Practical challenges discussed include:
- Field Review: ACEC-BC has produced practical advice to Professional Engineers for the performance of Field Reviews. The guidance document is available on the ACEC-BC COVID-19 Resource Centre.
- Public Consultation: Requirements for public consultation pose a challenge. While technology can be deployed, the process will be less efficient and may not satisfy contractual obligations. Consultation guidance will be discussed in the coming weeks as some of the more immediate challenges are addressed.
- Worksite Hygiene: The Provincial Health Authority released Guidance to Construction Site Operation on March 22. There have been some practical challenges as WorkSafeBC do not have jurisdiction to regulate Health Authority directives. In the meantime, Owners like the Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure do require contractors to submit plans to demonstrate sites will be compliant.
- Permitting: Permitting and inspection were identified as pre-existing schedule risks. The pandemic is expected to further slow these processes. A letter was sent by ACEC-BC to the Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development to encourage the Minister to address inefficiencies in application of the Water Sustainability Act.
In support of industry resilience, the advisory group continue to monitor three key risks:
- Consulting Capacity: Both owners and consultants report that capacity seems to have rebounded following disruption associated with the changeover to remote operations. Members report that all or nearly all team members are working remotely; some offices remain partially open with a skeleton team.
- Contract Management: Owners and consultants have received force majeure notifications although principally only when the contract includes a defined notification period. Notifications are being received as initiation of discussion regarding schedule; Consultants are encouraged to work closely with clients to manage schedules and to highlight risks as they arise. Clients have committed to manage costs and delay as they become apparent.
- Liquidity: Ensuring cash continues to flow between parties will be monitored within the advisory owner group on at least a bi-weekly basis. Members who experience systemic payment issues – especially for public sector contracts or when acting as a sub-consultant to another member firm – are encouraged to contact ACEC-BC.
The team will meet again on Thursday, April 9 to review any emerging issues and will continue to address areas of common interest
Questions? Concerns?We want to hear from you. Submit your comments and issues through the ACEC-BC online feedback portal available on the ACEC-BC Resource Centre. Issues submitted will be forwarded to the Advisory Group for review and comment.