National Highways, Crossrail, and Tideway say work has been unaffected by rising Omicron cases

Large engineering projects are maintaining productivity even as the Omicron variant of Covid-19 wreaks havoc on workforces in other industries.

Train services around the country have been cut back due to shortages of drivers and other station staff. The high transmission rate of Omicron has also seen workers in construction firms having to isolate, leading to a decline in production on job sites, reports New Civil Engineer (NCE).

However, it seems to be having much less of an impact among engineering projects, particularly those with fewer public-facing roles.

A Transport for London (TfL) spokesperson told NCE: “Across our workforce, we currently have around 400 members of non-office-based staff off work due to a Covid-related illness. The overall proportion of staff currently off work remains low, and we continue to do what we can to mitigate the impact and minimise the effect on our customers.”

In other projects, where public interaction is virtually none, the spread of the virus is minimal.

Crossrail said there hasn’t been a noticeable impact on its workforce, adding: “The project remains vigilant to the recent Covid-19 developments and will continue to closely monitor the situation across the programme.”

Network Rail has said that it is experiencing 4% absence levels, but that less than a quarter of that is related to Covid-19.

Tideway told NCE: “The impact of Covid on staff numbers is minimal currently. We are seeing absences range from 0-10% across sites as we remobilise using safe restart plans after the Christmas break.”

Meanwhile, National Highways says it has not experienced any issues of significance.

This is a considerable upturn in events compared to last summer, when both TfL and Tideway reported large shortages in their engineering workforces as a result of contact tracing.

At one point in June 2021, more than 100 construction workers on TfL projects were self isolating after either testing positive for Covid-19 or being pinged by the NHS test and trace app.

The change in circumstances could be attributed to higher vaccination rates, greater awareness of how the virus is transmitted and better organisation from these projects to ensure their workforces are maintaining best practices to minimise its spread.

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