This page provides news and resources relating to working on site during the Covid-19 pandemic. It will be updated as required to ensure information is current and easy to access.
08.07.21: Easing of Covid-19 Restrictions – Notice
Following publication of the Government’s ‘Social Distancing Review Report’ in July, the Prime Minister is due to announce that England will move to step 4 of the Covid-19 roadmap on Monday 19 July. This will not however be confirmed until Monday 12 July and will be dependent on performance against its four tests (vaccine deployment, evidence that vaccines are reducing hospitalisation and deaths, infection rates and assessment of new variants).
Whilst this is subject to a final review of data next week, it is likely that restrictions on social distancing (currently maintaining a distance of 2.0m, or 1.0m with risk mitigation where 2.0m is not viable) will be lifted, as well as limits on gatherings and guidance to work from home.
It is also likely that face coverings will no longer be legally required although there is likely to be guidance issued to recommend that people wear them when entering an enclosed or crowded place or travelling on public transport.
It has also been announced that from Monday 16 August, anyone who is identified as a ‘close contact’ of anyone diagnosed with Covid-19 (e.g. living in the same household) will not have to self-isolate, provided that they have had both doses of the vaccine or are under 18. They will however, have to take PCR tests and will have to self-isolate if they test positive themselves.
The above information currently applies to England only and the extent of restrictions to be eased and the dates for implementation will vary in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
It is not yet possible to determine exactly how these measures, if they are introduced, will affect the way we have to work. However, the NASC will review and update the current document ‘Guidance for Scaffolding Operations During the Coronavirus (Covid-19) Pandemic’ as soon as the relevant information is available.
Throughout the Coronavirus pandemic, the UK Government’s advice has been ‘where work cannot be undertaken from home, people should go to work’.
Where work continues employers must follow Government guidance and Site Operating Procedures (SOP), produced by the Construction Leadership Council (CLC). The latest version of the SOP can be downloaded here.
The NASC has published detailed Covid-19 guidance to assist the scaffolding industry in operating in compliance with current safety guidelines. The document, titled Guidance for Scaffolding Operations During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic, provides a broad range of advice scaffolding contractors might wish to adopt to help safeguard the health and welfare of their workforce. It can be downloaded here.
An associated NASC Scaffolding Operations During the Covid-19 Pandemic guidance toolbox talk is also available here.
Other points to be aware of:
1: Guidance for employers in Scotland and Wales is also available. For Scotland click here and for Wales, which states “My work cannot be done from home – can I still go to work? Yes. Occupations like construction and manufacturing can continue, subject to compliance with other rules such as employers ensuring that all reasonable measures are taken to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.” click here.
2: The NASC has issued a Risk Assessment Template Email for scaffolding contractors to send to clients to request site specific risk assessment information. The document can be found here.
Where the result of a risk assessment is that the employer decides to withdraw their workers from site, arrangements must be made to address the contractual issues which may arise from that decision. General Guidance on Contractual Issues has been issued by Build UK in conjunction with Wedlake Bell and can be found here.
3: The Government has issued new guidance specifically about working in construction and in peoples homes.
These documents set out guidance on how to work safely and give practical considerations of how suitable measures can be applied in the workplace. They ‘mirror’ the current editions of the CLC’s SOP and the NASC guidance, but contain more detail on the precautions to be taken, especially regarding the requirements for risk assessment, protecting people who are at higher risk, practical solutions for social distancing, PPE and work related travel.
Whilst this document provides non statutory guidance, it is likely that the HSE will take appropriate actions, which could include enforcement notices, to improve the control of workplace risks, where implemented controls are felt to be lacking.
Whilst it is appreciated that a number of requirements contained within these documents are essentially the responsibility of the Client or the Principal Contractor, if you have recently returned to work or are intending to do so in the near future, it important that you read these documents and ensure that any requirements, applicable to yourselves, are appropriately implemented.
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