Working safely in Construction

Government Guidance on Working with COVID Summary

The Government’s new guidance on Working safely during COVID-19 in construction and other outdoor work is a comprehensive manual for how it envisages the Construction sector to ‘work safely and support your workers’ and visitors’ health and wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic and not contribute to the spread of the virus’. Here we’ve summarised the guidance for you:

1.Thinking about risk

Carrying out a risk assessment can help you to understand where the possible danger points lie and how you can mitigate them, as well as plan for potential scenarios in case of any unforeseen dangers. There are interactive risk assessment tools provided here which can help with the exercise as well as guidance on practical measures that can make a big difference to contain the spread of the virus. You can share the results with your workforce to create confidence that you are doing all you can, and you can publish it on your website so potential customers understand that you are managing the safety of your workers responsibly.

2. Who should go to work

The report advises consulting with workers about who can attend work safely, taking into account higher risk family members, travel time, caring responsibilities and other individual circumstances. There is an assessment report that outlines higher risk categories, including older males, people with higher BMIs, health condition such as diabetes, or from BAME communities.

3. Social distancing for workers

Social distancing in the Construction sector may seem like an impossible burden but with practical measures such as staggering shift and break times, outdoor meetings and increasing entry points, as well as tools such as beable® wearable, may become easier and less onerous.

4. Managing your customers, visitors, and contractors

A hygiene induction for contractors and visitors, remote meetings where possible and maintaining a record of visitors are some of the tools you might consider.

5. Cleaning the workplace

Increased cleaning has become a part of life for all places of work now as well as the familiar site of hand sanitiser and signage to remind workers and visitors of their obligations to keep clean. If it’s practical, having workers use dedicated tools with cleaning before changing users can help, as well as more frequent waste disposal. Lots of household cleaning products kill COVID on contact including soap and water, bleach, surgical spirit, and plain surface wipes.

6. Personal protective equipment (PPE) and face coverings

Masks seem like the norm now – they are an easy way to reduce the spread and keep workers safe. Permanent masks should be washed daily and disposable ones changed daily or disposed of if they become wet. Workers should wear their own gloves and use hand sanitiser before touching communal areas in welfare units. The availability of paper towel and spray in welfare units with signs to clean up can encourage responsibility.

7. Workforce management

Splitting your workforce into teams that stay together can contain any possible spread. Removing the need to pass tools from person to person can be enabled by ‘drop-off points’ and further encouragement to wipe tools after use before dropping off. Minimising bottlenecks and queues by staggering shift patterns will avoid congestion. Keeping a temporary record of staff for 21 days will identify potential contacts in case of an outbreak.

8. Inbound and outbound goods

The guidance asks construction site managers to ‘maintain social distancing and avoid surface transmission when goods enter and leave the site especially in high volume situations, for example, builders’ yards or despatch areas. It asks sites to consider reducing the frequency of deliveries, for example by ordering larger quantities less often and revising pick-up and drop-off collection points, procedures, signage, and markings.

You can read the full guidance here. Although these aren’t failsafe methods on their own to cancel COVID, it is practical advice and implementing a combination of measures will ensure you are doing all you can to keep workers safe and move towards economic recovery.

SMART sites: using wearable technology to track workers and alert site managers about clusters could be a good strategy for your site. Beable, an award-winning technology created by EMS is an easy-to-use system using self-monitoring and wearable devices (no phones) and simple on-site beacon self-installation. Contact EMS today to find out more. BUTTON