New Guidance Published on Safety in the Construction Industry
The Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) has brought out a set of new guidelines that they hope will help construction companies to come to terms with the latest government restrictions and keep their employees safe.
The Basic Details
The new guidance comes in the form of two documents that have been produced by BESA´s COVID-19 Panel. They aim to give advice that is clear, practical and simple to carry out. This includes information on lowering the risks of virus transmission on building sites, and how to carry out risk assessments
Becky Crosland is a BESA health & safety advisor. She said that their guidelines are based on “prioritising workers and customer/client safety. She pointed out that they have seen the number of infections rise and this means it is important that businesses have the right processes in place to protect staff on sites and in domestic settings.
Among the issues pointed out by the trade organisation is the fact that the two-metre social distancing rule remains the same as it was on construction sites. Crosland stated that there is some confusion over the subject, as some people appear to believe that it has been reduced to one metre.
She confirmed that other controls need to be applied if the two-metre rule can´t be applied for some reason. These include avoiding any sort of face to face contact and keeping the time spent close together as short as possible. Normal safety precautions when working at heights, dealing with CE accredited fabrications and carrying out other tasks should still be closely followed.
Rosie Newcombe is a member of the BESA COVID-19 panel. She said that people may feel that their individual contributions don´t make a difference, but that health and safety professionals across the sector have come together to produce this guide.
Focusing on the Mental Health Side of Health & Safety
There are also concerns that the current crisis could have an adverse effect on the mental health of construction workers in the UK. A report by the BESA and the Electrical Contractors Association (ECA) in 2019 showed that 90% of bosses in the industry have suffered some form of mental health issue due to late payments.
This issue also leads to productivity problems, as the Health & Safety Executive reported more than 400,000 work days lost to mental health issues in 2018. Most tragically, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) has also confirmed that, on average, a construction worker takes their own life every single day.
At the current time, financial worries, job security and health concerns are likely to be among the major points that are on workers´ minds. Workers and bosses are encouraged to look out for signs such as anxiety or panic attacks in their colleagues and staff.
In the current climate, openly discussing the situation and carrying out the recommended health and safety measures could go some way to helping workers to deal with this issue before they become too serious.