Construction sites operating during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic need to ensure they are protecting their workforce and minimising the risk of spread of infection. The Construction Leadership Council's official guidance on how construction sites should be managed in the current environment - the Site Operating Procedures (Version 3) - were reissued on 15 April 2020. This important document can be downloaded here
It should be clearly noted that Public Health England guidance for construction states:
“Where it is not possible to follow the social distancing guidelines in full in relation to a particular activity, you should consider whether that activity needs to continue for the site to continue to operate, and, if so, take all the mitigating actions possible to reduce the risk of transmission”.
Whilst GAI members should make themselves aware of the entire set of procedures, it was thought worthwhile to highlight key points which were most relevant to the bulk of our membership.
The points detailed below are only a small snapshot and are most pertinent to those who are involved in the supply only of products. Those who are involved in supply and installation of products on site (such as door automation) should of course refer to all aspects of the guidelines in more depth.
When to Travel to Work
The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy advised in a letter to the UK construction industry on 31 March 2020 that:
“wherever possible, people should work at home. However, we know that for many people working in construction their job requires them to travel to their place of work, and they can continue to do so. This is consistent with the Chief Medical Officer’s advice”.
There is a clear set of guidelines about this which should be closely studied in the CLC’s official Site Operating Procedures. This gives detail on which workers should or should not travel to work and covers the following topics in detail:
- Social distancing
- Person at increased risk
- Persons defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable
- Living with a person in one of the above groups
- If someone falls ill
As part of ongoing support required to main contractors and sub-contractors, architectural ironmongers and product manufacturers are often called to attend site meetings, either to co-ordinate supply or to resolve technical issues when a product has been installed.
The following is the guidance relating to site meetings, as set out in the official Site Operating Procedures:
• Only absolutely necessary meeting participants should attend
• Attendees should be at least two metres apart from each other
• Rooms should be well ventilated / windows opened to allow fresh air circulation
• Consider holding meetings in open areas where possible
Delivery of products to site and to ‘collect’ customers
There are some GAI member companies who remain open for business, albeit many of these in a reduced capacity. This is often with the goal of providing ongoing services to the healthcare sector.
One of the key touchpoints between construction sites and our members is to deliver ironmongery products. The following guidance relates to delivery of product to site, as set out in the official Site Operating Procedures:
“Where loading and offloading arrangements on site will allow it, drivers should remain in their vehicles. Where drivers are required to exit their vehicle, they should wash or sanitise their hands before handling any materials.”
The Builders Merchants Federation has published its own Branch Operating Guidelines for the safe operation of builders’ merchants while Covid-19 restrictions continue. This gives additional advice for managing customers who are collecting products, and some of this advice might also be relevant to GAI members.
The BMF’s advice includes these tips:
- Accept credit account, card (preferable contactless) or online payments only – No cash.
- Customers must pre-order products and book a collection time slot to reduce gatherings.
- Products to be picked ahead of collection, with tickets raised and ready.
- Limit collections to two at a time / or one every two parking spaces, depending on size of site.
- Allocate one member of staff to be responsible for policing the gate and managing the flow.
- Demarcate external customer queue locations with hazard warning tape at 2m intervals.
- Customers must remain in their vehicles while their pre-ordered goods are retrieved.
- Once the goods have been left by their vehicle and the server is >2m away, they may then exit their
- ·vehicle and load themselves. This enforces the rule on gatherings / over-crowding.
- Implement a one-way system that will prevent people passing each other.
Watch the BMF’s summary video here: https://youtu.be/F8KIvdURnh0
Travelling to site and when at work
Guidance has also been given in the official Site Operating Procedures on both travel to work on site and driving when at work and this is as follows:
Travel to Work on site
Wherever possible workers should travel to site alone using their own transport.
If workers have no option but to share transport:
● Journeys should be shared with the same individuals and with the minimum number of people at any one time
● Good ventilation (i.e. keeping the windows open) and facing away from each other may help to reduce the risk of transmission
● The vehicle should be cleaned regularly using gloves and standard cleaning products, with particular emphasis on handles and other areas where passengers may touch surfaces
Driving at Work
When travelling at work or between site locations, workers should travel alone. If workers have no option but to share a vehicle, then they should:
● Share with the same individuals and with the minimum number of people at any one time
● Wherever possible maintain a distance of two metres and avoid touching their faces
● Maintain good ventilation (i.e. keeping the windows open) and face away from each other during the journey
● Wash their hands for 20 seconds using soap and water or hand sanitiser if soap and water are not available before entering and after getting out of the vehicle
● Regularly clean the vehicle using gloves and standard cleaning products, with particular emphasis on handles and other surfaces which may be touched during the journey.
Further site operating procedures
There are further instructions given in the CLC’s official Site Operating Procedures on the following topics:
- Site Access and Egress Points
- Hand Washing
- Toilet Facilities
- Canteens and Rest Areas
- Changing Facilities, Showers and Drying Rooms
- Work Planning to Avoid Close Working(including detail on PPE)
- First Aid and Emergency Service Response
Please do take a moment to familiarise yourself with this vital guidance.
And, most importantly, it must always be remembered that the health and safety requirements of any construction activity must not be compromised at this time. If an activity cannot be undertaken safely, it should not take place.
Should anyone have any specific questions relating to this, please contact GAI Technical Manager Douglas Masterson on firstname.lastname@example.org.