May 19, 2020

Positive news for CIS contractors – the construction industry is starting to return to a degree of normality following the Government’s announcement that allows sites to re-open.

In his address to the nation on Sunday (10th May), Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “We now need to stress that anyone who can’t work from home, for instance, those in construction or manufacturing, should be actively encouraged to go to work…work from home if you can, but you should go to work if you can’t work from home.”

However, it was stressed that workers should avoid public transport if possible and maintain social distancing. Capacity on sites will, therefore, be limited.

According to construction industry data provider, Glenigan, there were 3,026 large-scale sites suspended at the start of the month, accounting for 36% of sites.

Glenigan reported: “…not only have we seen a steadying in the number of sites being suspended but, as we hoped, we’ve also seen the reactivation of a growing number of sites as contractors and developers have adapted site operations to include social distancing.”

The company went on to state that the immediate development pipeline has weakened since the lockdown with the number of main contracts awarded in April standing at 60% lower than a year ago.

“But whilst these figures are dramatic, there are related indicators that suggest these declines will be short-lived.”

The Construction Leadership Council has issued site operating procedures for employers to protect their workforce during COVID-19.

This has been supplemented by additional Government guidance to help make workplaces COVID-secure. You can read the guidance for construction sites here, but below we provide a summary of the main points:

  • Employers need to assess and manage the risks of COVID-19.
  • In a construction setting, there should be plans for the minimum number of people on-site to operate safely and effectively.
  • To minimise contact with other people when arriving at work, sites may need to consider staggered arrivals and departures as well as additional parking facilities and providing handwashing facilities or hand sanitiser at entry and exit points. It may be necessary to stagger break times and provide outdoor areas used for breaks.
  • Where there are teams or shift groups, it may be appropriate to fix these so that if contact is necessary, it happens between the same people.
  • Increased handwashing and surface cleaning including tools, controls, machinery, and equipment.
  • Every effort must be made to comply with social distancing (2m). Where this is not possible, further mitigating actions should be considered such as keeping the activity time as short as possible, using barriers to separate people, or reducing the number of people each person has contact with.
  • Where visits to other sites are required, there should be minimal person-to-person contact.

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