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Estimating 101, June 2020 – The impact of COVID on non-productive labour


June 16, 2020
By Dan Beresford and John F. Wiesel

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June 16, 2020 – Before COVID-19, non-productive labour was calculated at 12.5% of a workday, under the best conditions.

Working within COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions, however, has the potential to increase non-productive labour on every jobsite. Consider…

COVID-19 safety guidelines include the need for physical distancing while working and moving through a building, for wearing PPE, for cleaning tools and equipment, and so on. All of this will have a major impact on non-productive labour.

Your crew must be screened at the entry to the jobsite, slowing down entry for everyone. Your crew will have to maintain physical distancing, which will result in waiting to enter work areas, stairwells or elevators.

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At times, the stairwells for going up or down a floor will be on the opposite sides of the building. Crossing the floor to the stairs while observing physical distancing will add to the time it takes to get to those stairs.

Your crew must wipe down tools and equipment before starting work and when leaving the jobsite. This will increase delays when starting and quitting work.

Putting on PPE and removing it safely takes time. When receiving deliveries, your crew will don their PPE. This could slow down unloading job materials and moving them to the work area.

According to a survey completed by the Greater Toronto ECA, these extra precautions add about 56 minutes (roughly 12% of the work day) of non-productive labour to each person’s work day.

(Read Set aside 56 minutes of your day for COVID-19 prevention on page 4.)

When preparing your estimates, strongly consider including time for all of these non-productive labour situations.


John F. Wiesel is the president of Suderman Estimating Systems Inc., and has been estimating and teaching estimating since the early 1980s. Dan Beresford served as an electrician in the Canadian Navy, then worked in various roles in the electrical sector before joining Suderman. Visit www.sudermanestimating.com.

This article—along with other great content—appears in the June 2020 edition of Electrical Business Magazine.



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