The UK’s Construction Industry to Continue During Second Lockdown
As the UK enters its second lockdown of the year, from the 5th of November through to the 2nd of December, there is some confusion over who can go to work and who should stay at home. In terms of the construction industry, workers can carry on as before.
A Look at the Construction Industry During the First Lockdown
The British construction sector came to a virtual standstill during the first lockdown earlier in 2020, as only essential work was allowed to continue at that time. This means that sites all over the country were closed for weeks on end and projects lay unfinished during this time as the industry suffered the biggest slump on record.
Once the restrictions were eased in the summer, workers were able to return with increased biosecurity measures in place to keep them safe. This proved to be a success, as the sector got back to work without any signs of it causing increased infection rates.
One of the effects of the new measure was that social distancing lowered the number of people who could be on a site at any one time. To deal with this, some companies decided to extend their working hours. Yet, the damage done to the industry during this period was massive and companies are still counting the cost of the first lockdown.
What Are the Rules Now?
The second lockdown is now expected to see up to 80% of the country’s workforce confined to their homes. Yet, construction workers are free to carry on working as normal. We know this because Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the nation in his address that workplaces can remain open “where people cannot work from home”.
In fact, he then went on to name the construction and manufacturing sectors as examples of cases in which people can carry on going to their usual workplace as they can’t work from home. So there is no doubt this time around that construction sites aren’t affected by the new set of rules.
Johnson said that these exemptions are designed to “keep the country operating” while continuing to support the most vital industries.
The work carried out by tradespeople in customers’ homes is also covered. In this case, it can continue provided that the worker and the people that they come into contact with on their jobs don’t have any coronavirus symptoms.
Naturally, the existing rules around areas such as good hygiene practices and social distancing are to remain in place, as these measures ensure that construction workers can attend sites with a lowered risk of infection. Standard safety practices such as the use of a ladder, step unit or plant platform, as needed, should be adhered to.
It is recommended that employers give their workers an authorisation letter in case they are stopped by police on their way to a job. Once the lockdown period is over, the restrictions will probably be reduced on a regional basis, so it is a good idea to look out for details of forthcoming changes in each area.