Working Safely On Site incl. Site Operating Procedures
The Prime Minister has confirmed the Government’s four‐step plan for a ‘cautious’ route out of lockdown in England. The current restrictions will be gradually relaxed, beginning with schools and colleges reopening from 8 March, and four specific tests will need to be met at each stage before further restrictions are lifted. The comprehensive roadmap confirms that individuals should continue to work from home where they can until at least 21 June, which is the fourth step and when social distancing measures will be reviewed. Government has released a series of posters showing at a glance which restrictions will be relaxed at each of the four steps of the roadmap. There will be at least five weeks between each step and the indicative ‘no earlier than’ dates are subject to change if the four specific tests are not met.
The Scottish Government has released its COVID‐19 Strategic Framework Update which sets out a phased approach to easing lockdown restrictions back to the previous geographical tiered level system by the end of April. The current restrictions will be relaxed in four stages, each at least three weeks apart subject to the six conditions within the framework being met. The earliest date for non‐essential work to be resumed in people’s homes is 26 April.
Site Operating Procedures
Every construction site must comply with the Site Operating Procedures developed by Build UK and the Construction Leadership Council (CLC). The latest updates are now in line with the government’s guidance.
If you are Tier 2 and the PC is not complying with SOPs, use these guidelines to pressure PCs to make the necessary adjustments to their sites, and report it to CONSTRUCT. We will report any contravention of the procedures with Build UK/CLC. You can also report it via the Health & Safety Executive (HSE). Should you act as the PC on any site, please ensure you strictly adhere to these procedures.
HSE are inspecting construction sites for compliance with COVID secure procedures. This may be conducted by usual inspectors, or by third-party contractors, who will show a letter of authorisation from HSE. TO check the validity of these third-party inspections, you can verify with the HSE on 0300 790 6896.
Public Health England has published new guidance on Social distancing in the workplace during coronavirus (COVID-19), which includes specific guidance in relation to Construction.
Checklists for Implementing SOPs
CITB has produced a range of checklists to help employers implement the Site Operating Procedures in practice:
- CC01: COVID‐19 ‐ Site operating procedures compliance checklist: An interactive checklist to protect the workforce on site
- CC02: COVID‐19 ‐ Health, safety and environmental risk assessment template: A guide and template on control measures for those undertaking risk assessments of the workplace and specific activities on site
- CC03: COVID‐19 ‐ A toolbox talk for construction workers: Designed for managers and supervisors to deliver health and safety information and engage the site workforce in the Site Operating Procedures
- CC04: COVID‐19 ‐ Weekly site operating procedures checklist: An interactive checklist to ensure ongoing compliance with procedures.
Using the NHS COVID-19 App on Your Sites
The NHS COVID‐19 app has been launched in England and Wales to help control the spread of coronavirus. Construction sites can create a unique NHS QR code and posters to display at each site entrance. We recommend that all members embed this into their processes for sites they manage, and should liaise with primary contractors on larger sites you work on to ensure a single QR is code is used.
Members can also play their part by encouraging their workforce to download and use the app outside of work.
Face Coverings on Site
Build UK has produced a brief report summarising the approaches being taken by its Contractor members with regard to the use of face coverings. Based on the assumption that a risk assessment had been undertaken and any PPE required for particular tasks provided, our snapshot survey requested members’ policies on the provision of face coverings in response to coronavirus.
Following the introduction of new restrictions, the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) has updated its statement on face coverings. The Use of Face Coverings in Construction during Coronavirus (COVID‐19) now recommends that face coverings are worn where workers on site are not required to wear Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) and their workplace (which may include welfare and changing facilities, office or meetings rooms) meets all of the following criteria:
- an enclosed space;
- where social distancing isn’t always possible; and
- where they come into contact with others they do not normally meet.
In line with Government guidance on premises providing hospitality, face coverings must be worn in site canteens except when seated at a table to eat or drink.
Testing and Self Isolation Requirements
Build UK has produced a Flow Chart on what to do if a worker have COVID-19 or has to self-isolate.
If a member of the workforce shows any of the three main COVID‐19 symptoms, they should get a test within five days and self‐isolate until they have received their test result. In accordance with Government guidance, colleagues who were in close contact do not need to self‐isolate, unless requested to do so by NHS Test and Trace. They should be informed that a colleague (who should remain anonymous) may have COVID‐19 and they should take extra care in practising social distancing and good hygiene.
Employers who are informed of more than one confirmed case should contact their local Public Health England Health Protection Team.
All international arrivals to England, including UK nationals, will be required to present a negative COVID‐19 test taken up to 72 hours prior to departure, regardless of whether a country is on the Government’s travel corridor list. There are a limited number of exemptions, including for hauliers, children under 11, and those travelling from countries without the infrastructure available to deliver the tests.
Passengers arriving from countries not on the travel corridor list are still required to self‐isolate for 10 days, regardless of their pre‐departure test result, although this can be reduced to five days under the Test to Release scheme.
Transport for London Construction Toolkit
Transport for London (TfL) continues to encourage people to avoid using the network during peak times (05:45 ‐ 08:15 and 16:00 ‐ 17:30) and has published a construction toolkit with guidance for businesses and specific asks for the construction sector when it comes to travelling to and from site. Build UK, GKR Scaffolding and Mace have produced a simple guide to Travelling in London during Coronavirus for construction workers. It contains practical advice on getting to a place of work, and you can use this helpful poster on site to remind workers to take other means of transport such as cycling or walking.
TFL has also used data to map out hotspots on the network to help reduce the pressure on public transport during lockdown. Workers who change at Stratford, West Ham and/or Canning Town are being asked to travel further into London and change at Mile End (for Bond Street), Bank (for London Bridge), Embankment (for Waterloo) and Whitechapel (for Canada Water).
Extended Working Hours on Sites
Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Robert Jenrick has published a Written Ministerial Statement making it clear that for the next 12 months (From May 2020) local planning authorities in England should not refuse requests to extend working hours on construction sites up to 9:00pm, Monday to Saturday, without very compelling reasons. In some cases, such as in areas without residential properties, 24-hour working may be justified.
Requests should be made to the local planning authority which should aim to issue a decision within 10 working days. Short term or modest increases to working hours may be agreed informally, whereas longer term or more significant changes will require a formal application in the usual way and the Government has published FAQs with further information.
The Government has published guidance on extending construction working hours introduced in the Business and Planning Act. Companies are now able to request extended and flexible site working hours through a fast‐track application process, with Local Authorities having 14 calendar days to make a decision otherwise the revised working hours will be deemed to have been consented to.
HSE Plant Inspection
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has confirmed that plant and equipment inspections should continue during the coronavirus pandemic, whilst recognising that there is reduced capacity for them to be undertaken due to a lack of available personnel and restricted access to site. If you are continuing to use equipment outside of its inspection period, you still have a duty of care and must document actions taken to make the equipment safe to use.
First Aid Cover in the Workplace
The HSE has also confirmed temporary changes for first aid cover in the workplace during coronavirus:
- Anyone with a first aid certificate that expires on or after 16 March 2020 and is unable to access re-qualification training may qualify for a 3-month extension. This applies to First Aid at Work (FAW), Emergency First Aid at Work (EFAW), Offshore Medic (OM) and Offshore First Aid (OFA).
- If first aid training is interrupted and the qualification cannot be completed within the usual timeframe, training can re-start at a later date as long as a full recap of training already delivered is undertaken and candidates show the knowledge and competencies required.
Performing CPR on Adult
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, St John Ambulance has updated its guidance for performing CPR on an unresponsive adult. The guidance provides step by step actions of what you need to do if you find someone collapsed and unresponsive.