The Construction Industry Could Lead the Way in New Safety Measures

The Construction Industry Could Lead the Way in New Safety Measures

21st April 2020

At the time of writing, there is still a lack of clarity over exactly when businesses will go back to normal in the UK and elsewhere. There are differing opinions over when the lockdown restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus outbreak should be partially or fully lifted.

Yet, one element that is becoming clearer is that the construction industry could be one of the leaders in showing the world how to get back to work safely.

Should Construction Site Workers Be Going Back to Work

There has been a degree of confusion over the status of construction workers during the current health crisis. A series of conflicting pieces of information have muddied the waters. In London, the Mayor confirmed that only critical work should be carried out.

The communities and housing secretary, Robert Jenrick, has tweeted that builders should carry on going to their sites, due to the importance of the industry. On the other hand, they aren’t classed as key workers according to the latest criteria to be issued.

This situation has led to Build UK calling for all of those working in construction to be classed as essential workers. They want this to apply on all sites of different types and sizes across the country.

The representative body made this plea during a recent conference call with ministers. The idea is to put all workers’ minds at ease that they are complying with restrictions when going to work.

What Is the Official Guidance on Site Safety?

In fact, the latest advice from the UK government suggests that building workers should carry on with their jobs provided that they can stick to social distancing. They also want any face to face contact to be limited to 15 minutes.

Not all workers are happy about this situation, as just now they feel that their health is at risk when they go to work. Perhaps the key question is whether this approach to safety is sustainable in the long term.

To understand what might happen next, we can see what is being proposed elsewhere. In Quebec, the residential construction sector has gone back to work. The two-metre rule is in force and those who can’t stick to it need to wear a mask, gloves and glasses.

Other measures include vehicles only being half-full, frequent hand washing and the presence of fewer workers on the site at any one time.

On large, open construction sites, it should be easier to stick to this new way of working than it is in many other environments. However, it remains to be seen how this is applied when combined with existing guidelines controlling the likes of hard hats and fixed access ladder use.

The Future in the UK

The new rules being used in places like Quebec would certainly make sense in the British construction industry too. By sticking to sensible guidelines like this, they will be looking after their own health as well as their colleagues’.

If they are classed as essential workers, British builders can help to show others that going back to work safely is possible.