Keeping Sites Open
Current Government advice is that construction can stay open, whether the work seems to be essential or not, but only if:
- Vulnerable people stay at home
- People work from home whenever possible
- Social distancing is applied
Conflicting advice seems to have been issued in Scotland, where some sites have understood that they must close. Construction workers, particularly in the access and scaffolding industry, have questioned whether it is possible to work and also apply social distancing.
The Secretary of State for Business was questioned on the issue of individuals going to work and not feeling safe to do so. He was very clear that, where work cannot be undertaken from home, people should go to work and employers must follow Government guidance and Site Operating Procedures (see below).
Arrangements are being made to help people to social distance while travelling to work, these include varying work times to reduce rush hour pressure on public transport.
The NASC issued a statement on 24 March 2020 calling on Main Contractors to recognise that in some situations work would not be able to continue. The document can be found here.
The NASC also 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.
Site Operating Procedures have been developed by Build UK and issued by the Construction Leadership Council (CLC). An updated version can be found here. The CLC has confirmed that sites which cannot implement the Site Operating Procedures should not remain open.
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.