The latest guidance from the UK Government does not require construction sites or businesses to close but does require that any employer who has staff on site must ensure that employees are able to follow Public Health England guidance
Current as at 25/03/2020 10:15 AM
This includes maintaining a 2 metre distance from others and following hygiene advice. Employees are permitted to travel to and from work, but only where the work absolutely cannot be done from home.
Build UK and the Construction Leadership Council have produced Site Operating Procedures (SOPs) on applying the Government's guidance to the construction industry, including information on how to decide whether work can be carried out. The SOPs place a strong emphasis on social distancing measures, along with enhanced cleaning regimes.
The SOPs state that work should not take place if it cannot be undertaken safely either due to a lack of suitably qualified personnel being available or due to social distancing being implemented. The Construction Leadership Council has confirmed that all construction sites that cannot implement the SOPs should not remain open.
Social distancing principles on construction sites include:
- Non-essential physical work that requires close contact between workers should not be carried out;
- Work requiring skin to skin contact should not be carried out;
- All other work should be planned to minimise contact between workers; and
- Site meetings should be restricted to those that are only absolutely necessary, only persons whose participation is necessary should attend and attendees should be two metres apart from each other.
The SOPs also contain more specific guidance on site access points, hand washing and toilet facilities, canteens and eating arrangements, changing facilities and cleaning, which can be found here.
There has been confusion caused by contradictory advice between the official government line and the position in Scotland where sites have been advised to close unless their work is essential, such as construction work on medical facilities. For the time being the law remains the same in all UK jurisdictions but businesses are advised to have regard to their local regulatory environment.
Construction firms are advised to monitor government publications and industry guidance for the latest news as unions and industry bodies have expressed concern at the continued operation of construction sites.
Partner, Health & Safety United KingdomView profile
Legal Director, Global Investigations