“The Construction Leadership Council has advised UK government that the construction industry will come to work today, to prepare to shut down works safely, whilst awaiting further information and clarity.
Boris Johnson, last night, announced new UK lockdown measures in the fight against the Coronavirus.
The COVID-19 emergency continues to unfold, and drastic new national measures have come into force. An Italian-style lockdown has been introduced in order to protect the NHS and save lives, but what about the construction industry? Parts of the construction sector are likely to be classified as non-essential and sites will close. Not all sites will close. Those working in the health services, the utilities operations and maintenance operations will continue to function and the situation reviewed.
Since the 23rd March announcement, industry leaders have been in conversation with the Cabinet Office to clarify the situation for construction operations.
In the meantime, the construction sector must consider contingencies for stopping work and making construction sites safe and secure, whilst awaiting further information. Plan as if you are preparing for the Christmas Break and organise for an orderly shutdown. Plan for worst case scenario and consider the following:
- Control of site access;
- Rescheduling or cancelling deliveries to site;
- Checking the condition of perimeter fencing and hoarding, and identifying where fencing must be made good, before vacating the site;
- Ensuring materials are stored safely. Do any items need to be sheeted or lashed down, to ensure they are secure?
- Checking that structures and temporary works are left in a safe condition. What can be done to ensure they adequately withstand adverse wind loading and other extreme weather effects;
- What arrangements have you made to drain excavation works. Do they need to continue, or can they be allowed to flood? If pumping is necessary to maintaining safe conditions, then consider designating the task as essential work;
- Planning essential maintenance work eg. refuelling portable generators, pumps, etc;
- Moving mobile and portable plant to a secure location and storing it safely;
- Checking that the construction site buildings’ windows, skylights and doors are secure etc.;
- Checking manned security and CCTV security coverage. Will your 24-hour service remain operational?
- Making an up-to-date list of contacts, their phone numbers and email addresses.
We are in exceptional circumstances, however the employer’s responsibility to assess and manage risk to their employees, and others arising from work activities, must not be neglected. If construction activities cannot be undertaken safely, they should not take place at all.
- Social distancing procedures;
- Lone working;
- Training and issuing of Personal Protective Equipment;
- Raising awareness – reinductions, toolbox talks etc;
- Availability of suitable qualified persons;
- Emergency procedures.
- Self testing i.e. taking your temperature.