How the UK’s Back to Work Guidelines Affect the Building Industry

How the UK’s Back to Work Guidelines Affect the Building Industry

04th May 2020

The UK government has now issued its long-awaited guidelines on getting back to work, with an emphasis on maintaining the distance between workers to lower the risk of spreading infections.

In terms of the building industry, there are some aspects of the guidelines that help to show us how people can get to work safely.

Avoid Close Contact

Since the start of the Covid-19 outbreak, the official advice has told us to try and maintain a distance of at least 2 metres from other people. This is still the recommendation that is given in the guidelines for returning to work in any type of industry.

A recommended way of doing this is by working on staggered shifts, with as few people on site at any one time as possible. Employees should avoid being face to face, with protective screens being used between workers where possible. This applies outdoors as well as indoors.

When in a building, staff should avoid lifts and use the stairs instead, while people should also be assigned to specific floors. Canteens are to be closed, with staggered breaks and packed lunches provided.

In terms of working outdoors, only those employees who are needed for carrying out or supervising a specific job should be present. Everyone should stay as far apart as possible. If people need to work together then the same pairs of workers should be used at all times.

Easier, Less Crowded Buildings and Sites

The government has also suggested setting up separate entrances and exits to buildings. This is so that everyone can follow the same one-way flow through them.

Entrances should have sanitising facilities next to them and no keypads should be used. It is also suggested that workers should change into their uniform or working clothes once they arrive, rather than beforehand.

It is worth pointing out that the traditional safety measures on building sites remain unchanged. Nothing contained in the new rules should lead to workers not using a hard hat and safety boots, or using a fixed access ladder when necessary.

Visiting a Customer’s Home

The new rules also take into account the situation in which tradesmen visit a customer’s home to carry out work. In this case, the same tradesman should always be used if repeat visits are needed.

A 2 metre distance should be observed at all times, with all internal doors to be left open too. When some degree of close proximity is unavoidable, this should be with a strict time limit of 15 minutes in place.

Anyone carrying out work in a customer’s home needs to take their own food and drink with them. Their bills should be settled by electronic transfer rather than cash.


Many of the measures that have been included in the guidelines for returning to work are the same things that most people are now used to carrying out anyway. In other cases, it may take a period of time before we get used to this new way of working.