With COVID-19 still a threat, it is important that everyone in construction continues to do their bit to protect its colleagues and customers. In the first of three exclusive articles talking to different sized businesses in the builders' merchant sector, Bradfords Building Supplies shares its own experiences.

Based in the south west of England, Bradfords Building Supplies is a family-owned builders’ merchant with an 880-strong workforce.

Like many in the construction industry, we have continued to trade throughout the pandemic.

To be successful, we believe changes had to be made to the way we operate. We have had to continuously evaluate and consider the safety and wellbeing of our staff, our customers and our suppliers, while at the same time ensuring that all appropriate measures were taken to prevent the spread of the virus across our local communities.

While guidance has changed recently, some measures will remain in place while the threat of infection remains. We have continued to encourage social distancing and the wearing of face coverings in our branches and in our offices. Hand sanitising stations will remain at the entrance of all our branches and defined cleaning regimes remain across all branches and in our Head Office.

In addition to keeping those measures in place, there has also been a lot going on behind the scenes.

Our senior management team has also become a COVID-response team who now meet twice a week. They discuss all COVID-related matters, including the number of cases in our business, the local area and the national picture.

The lessons learned from those meetings could be useful for others across the construction industry, so we rolled out COVID-related policies across our business.

We have a clear policy for managing overseas travel and continue to ask employees to notify us of any intended overseas travel. We continue to update our communications to our employees to include latest governmental changes and guidance. We do briefings via Microsoft Teams to all managers before any significant branch operational change is introduced. We have also continued to provide mental health support to our teams and delivered mental health awareness training to all our managers.

We believe the key to our success has been our ability to change and implement new ways of working at pace. We have also been able to provide real-time advice and guidance during very uncertain times. This has allowed our employees to feel supported and able to discuss any concerns they’ve had. We capture any COVID-related absences early, allowing for branches to be cleaned and sanitised. This has reduced onward transmission and further associated absence.

We have a top tip to share: make sure you are doing things for the right reason even if government no longer enforces certain rules. Employee wellbeing and safety is paramount.

Whatever size your business, there are actions you can take to keep everyone as safe as possible. For further guidance and advice, please visit gov.uk/workingsafely