A short while ago, we published a blog on the support available to construction businesses, employees and contractors if the government was to order mass site closures. Today, however, we are turning our focus to current advice for construction sites still in operation, to ensure that the health of workers is protected while they carry out their jobs.
Government “pays tribute” in letter to industry
On 31 March, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Alok Sharma, wrote an open letter to the UK’s construction sector. In the letter, he pays “tribute to all those who are working tirelessly within the construction industry”, emphasising the importance of its continuing operation to the country, the economy and the health system. To ensure the health and safety of those continuing to travel to construction sites, he advised firms to follow the new Site Operating Procedures published by the Construction Leadership Council (CLC). These will change regularly to reflect any new guidance from Public Health England, providing advice on keeping workers safe while on site.
Travelling to and entering a site
Workers travelling to and from sites should observe social distancing measures as far as possible, including using alternative methods to public transport. Wherever possible, they should travel alone and consider how they would get home if they were taken ill.
The guidance also states that staggered start and finish times should be introduced to reduce congestion and contact. More entrances and exits should be introduced, while any entrances that require skin contact, such as fingerprint sensors, should be disabled. All workers should be required to wash their hands with soap and water, or hand sanitiser where this isn’t available, when entering and leaving a site. All non-essential visitors should be barred from the site.
Common areas should be cleaned regularly, including receptions, offices, delivery areas, telephones and desks. The regularity of toilet cleaning should be increased, and workers should be required to wash their hands thoroughly when they use the facilities. Portable toilets should be avoided wherever possible.
Cafés and restaurants have been closed across the UK, meaning that site canteens cannot continue to operate normally. The workforce should be advised to bring in their own food from home wherever possible. Where food does continue to be provided, it should be pre-prepared and wrapped food only.
Break times should be staggered to reduce congestion and tables should be cleaned after each use. Dedicated eating areas should be established and thoroughly cleaned at the end of each break and shift.
Social distancing while working
Current government guidelines suggest that people maintain a two metre (or six foot) gap between them at all times, and this should be no different for those working on site.
The CLC has advised that all non-essential work that requires close or skin-to-skin contact should not be carried out, and careful plans should be put in place to minimise contact between workers for all essential work. All Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should be cleaned or disposed of after use, while the use of lifts should be avoided or their capacity reduced.
Working together to support the industry
While construction sites remain open, they will need all the help they can get to continue operating as normal. Focus remains open for business and are working hard to offer our specialist construction expertise to all Brokers looking to place cases for their clients during this difficult time.
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