Construction and remediation work during coronavirus

01 May 2020

The Construction Leadership Council has issued updated guidance on construction site operating procedures during the coronavirus outbreak.

The government has made clear that all construction work can continue, where it is safe to do so. This includes building safety remediation work, such as the removal of unsafe cladding, as well as other building work.   

This guidance offers clarity on how to continue this work, including in cases where the social distancing requirement cannot be achieved.

What’s in the guidance?

The guidance states that, where construction sites are in operation, it is essential that those responsible ensure workers are protected, and that steps are taken to minimise the risk of the spread of infection. This includes a hierarchy of control measures to provide specifics over how the risks can be mitigated.  

The guidance sets out detailed advice covering:

  • Travel to work.
  • Driving at work.
  • 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.
  • First aid and emergency service response.
  • Cleaning.

Maintain social distancing – where possible

Where possible, the guidance advises that the government’s social distancing rules of maintaining a two metre distance between people should be followed. A number of examples it cites include:

  • Considering staggered start and finish times to reduce congestion and contact by limiting workers on site.
  • Changing the number of access and egress points on a site.
  • Using floor markers to maintain distance when queuing.
  • Staggering break times.
  • Increasing the number of facilities, such as showers, canteens and drying rooms.

Where social distancing cannot be guaranteed

Where it is not possible to follow social distancing guidelines in full, the guidance states that those responsible should consider whether the activity needs to continue for the site to operate and – where it is deemed essential – must take all the mitigating actions possible to reduce the risk of transmission.

The guidance sets out a hierarchy of controls to reduce transmission, which we have summarised below, and are set out in more detail in the guidance:

  • Eliminate – ensuring workers who are unwell do not attend work, rearranging tasks so they can be carried out by one person, avoiding direct contact, limiting participants at meetings, and holding meetings in open areas.
  • Reduce – minimising the frequency and time that workers are within two metres of each other, minimising the number of workers involved, regular cleaning, enhanced hygiene and increased ventilation.
  • Isolate – keeping workers that do need to be within two metres of each other in small teams, and away from other workers.
  • Control – limiting the time that workers have to work face-to-face to 15 minutes or less, enhancing the authorisation process for such activities, and providing additional supervision to monitor and manage compliance.

In terms of personal protective equipment (PPE), the guidance states that respiratory protective equipment (RPE) should not be used where the two metre rule is being followed. Where it is not, activities should be individually risk-assessed following the hierarchy of controls summarised above (and in more detail in the guidance), and RPE should be a last resort. Any PPE used must be thoroughly cleaned after use, should not be shared between workers, and single-use PPE must be disposed of so it cannot be reused.

For more details and specific advice, please refer to the full guidance.

Who to speak to

Victoria Moffett, Head of Building and Fire Safety Programmes