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Covid-19 and Construction Site Safety

As the UK and the rest of Europe begin to slowly emerge from the Covid-19 related lockdown, many industries are facing confusion over how they should be safely conducting business. This is certainly true of the construction industry.

Not only do construction businesses need to make sure that they are adhering to governmental guidelines, but they also need to ensure that they are taking the necessary steps to develop the confidence of their employees, customers and suppliers.

Not taking these precautions could lead to serious issues with trust and ultimately create big issues going forward. In this guide, we outline which considerations need to be taken when it comes to site safety concerning Covid-19.

 Before Reopening

Many construction sites have already reopened and some are still taking the time to consider the risks and the impact of those risks. As employers, all construction companies must ensure that the health and safety of their employees are considered and acted upon.

Although most construction sites will already of had a thorough risk assessment, this must now be revisited to establish additional risks regarding the spread of Covid-19. To conduct this assessment you can refer to the advice outlined in the ‘Working safely during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak’ guidelines, provided by the Health and Safety Executive.

Once a risk assessment has been conducted, the relevant measures must be put in place to mitigate the potential spread of the virus. This may include the provision of additional PPE, social distancing and strict cleaning schedules.

PPE

Personal protective equipment already plays a key part in keeping those who work on construction sites safe from the dangers that surround them. This is now more important than ever in tackling the hazards surrounding the spread of Covid-19.

However, the UK Government are currently advising that additional PPE such as face coverings are not required in settings where other measures such a social distancing, regular cleaning and hand washing are being taken to limit the risks.

“Unless you are in a situation where the risk of COVID-19 transmission is very high, your risk assessment should reflect the fact that the role of PPE in providing additional protection is extremely limited”

 Social Distancing

Maintaining a safe social distance from others in the workplace is one of the main measures that should be applied when seeking to protect those on site. The distance which should be kept differs around Europe but is currently maintained at 2 meters in the UK.

Although this is not always possible, plans and processes should be put in place to maintain distancing on construction sites.

In their guidelines, the UK Government highlight that businesses should aim “To maintain 2m social distancing wherever possible, including while arriving at and departing from work, while in work, and when travelling between sites”

Hazardous Processes 

Construction businesses have to deal with hazardous processes daily. These processes need special consideration when reopening sites during the Covid-19 pandemic.

For example, if you were having heavy concrete mesh reinforcement delivered on-site, this would ordinarily be a risky process. Now you must also consider how having something large and heavy delivered may impact on Covid-19 safety, such as individuals not being able to socially distance or potentially contaminated surfaces.

Site safety has always played a key part in running any successful construction business. But never before has it been more important to consider than in this new and changing environment. Properly following the guidelines as outlined by the government will help build the confidence necessary to open construction sites safely.

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