Will Modern Methods of Constructions Remain Post-Lockdown?
Construction workers have seen many changes in working practice over the past 18 months; not only are there many new advances in technologies being used on construction sites, there are also specific COVID-safety measures that have been introduced to allow the industry to keep working safely as lockdowns have been lifted, restrictions eased and vaccines introduced.
With “Freedom Day” done, most of the restrictions that have bound the UK now lifted, how does the construction industry feel about keeping some safety measures in place? Whilst elements like wearing masks and keeping a distance are no longer law, many firms across all sectors have decided, for the moment, to keep them in place. Additionally, the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) have released an update to their Site Operating Procedures Statement (on 15 July) to recommend that measures implemented since March 2020 should be retained.
Masks or face coverings can be uncomfortable, especially in the heat, and many construction workers who spend their days outside would not be happy to wear these except when moving to a close contact or limited indoor space.
Official CLC guidance states that an employer should make face coverings available for free, with recommendations that they should be worn either in “crowded or enclosed” spaces or in situations where workers may come into close contact with someone they do not usually see – however, they are not a requirement by law.
It may not always be practical – or safe – for construction workers to remain 2 metres apart, although many have maintained a 1m distance as much as practically possible. Depending on the situation and environment, this may have to be less during certain elements of a construction activity (for example, when training with an apprentice). With Government guidance now removing distancing as a requirement for workers and members of the public, it may be that this is one element of COVID-safety that does become less prevalent, although workers may choose to wear masks if they do come into close contact whilst working, as long as it is safe for them to do so.
CLC Guidance on social distancing from July 19 is that elements of this should be maintained, such as in crowded areas or indoor spaces. Any official changes to social distancing guidance made by an employer should be discussed with the workforce.
Testing & Isolation
CLC guidance for testing and isolation mirrors that of official Government advice; until August 16, anyone who has been in close contact with someone who then tests positive for COVID-19 will need to isolate for 10 days.
From August 16, they will not have to isolate as long as:
They are under 18
They have received both doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine.
With that being said, anyone who tests positive on a PCR test, regardless of vaccine status, will still need to isolate for 10 days.
Other measures that were implemented during the pandemic include:
- Increased ventilation
- Enhanced welfare facilities
- Improved communication
- More organisation on sites
CLC “strongly recommend” that these measures should be retained, which overall would be a sensible decision for employers as these are all conducive to well run and efficient construction activities.
CLC Site Operating Procedure: https://www.constructionleadershipcouncil.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/CLC-Statement-15-July-2021-Site-Operating-Procedures-Lifting-of-Restrictions-Statement.pdf
Face Coverings in Construction: https://www.constructionleadershipcouncil.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/The-Use-of-Face-Coverings-in-Construction-during-Coronavirus-Version-3.pdf