We are today issuing health and safety advice to construction site managers and workers where building sites are remaining open during the Covid-19 outbreak.
Senior Manager Francis Hunter, a qualified health and safety advisor, says that while there is “no question” that people should stay at home, many construction workers are self-employed and it is less easy for construction bosses to make that call.
His comments come in the wake of a heated national debate surrounding pictures of construction workers eating their lunches in close proximity to co-workers since the effective lockdown.
Francis said: “There needs to be some balance to keep individuals safe and keep the essential parts of the industry going at the same time. In London, if you have already travelled to work on a packed Tube, you probably don’t see the same risk in sitting next to someone while you eat your lunch. The question really is what projects actually still need to be carrying on in these circumstances?”
He said the government’s Job Retention Scheme had not yet addressed the self-employed but recognised that it is in an extremely difficult position and that there was no ‘playbook’ for something of this magnitude.
He said: “The construction industry has been told it can still operate if it practises social distancing but as we have all seen on the news, this is not an easy thing to manage and does not appear to be working so far.
“But there are simple measures for both site managers and those working for them that they can take at site level to minimise contact with others.”
- Only essential travel should be undertaken by operatives
- Limit visitors to the site to only agreed essential people
- Hold site meetings outside and keep to a minimum number of people
- Resort to teleconferencing, where possible
- Disinfect common areas frequently, if possible
- Stagger breaks to ensure smaller gatherings of people
- Think about a temporary labour reduction on site
- Reinforce social distancing
- Make allowances for additional car parking on site, where possible, to reduce the use of public transport
For construction trades persons:
- Advise your site manager of your personal situation in relation to Covid-19
- Wash your hands when you get to the site and throughout the day
- Keep your contact with the surfaces to a minimum whilst on site
- Don’t eat or drink on site unless in dedicated areas
- Avoid shaking hands with anyone
- Use your own vehicle to travel to work, where possible
- Maintain a three-step distance from others