Posted on: 12 May 2020

Looking after staff on your building site

When the coronavirus pandemic broke out in early 2020, many businesses that were deemed non-essential temporarily closed and in many cases placed their employees on furlough, but there were also some businesses and workers that were deemed essential to keep the UK running.

Originally, construction workers were designated as essential by the government, but after a while, many construction companies decided to place their workers on furlough to ensure employee safety and wellbeing. However, following the announcement from the UK Government on 10th May, construction workers have been allowed to go back to work. Some construction businesses have now decided to bring their workers back to sites, including large building companies such as Mace, Redrow and Persimmon.

Construction companies must adhere to strict rules when allowing their staff to work on a site. If you are considering reopening a site, carry on reading to see what you need to consider.

How to safely reopen your construction site

To safely reopen your construction site, you will need to follow the strict social distancing rules set out by the government.

Reduce site traffic

Your site should be for essential workers only, and as such, you should not allow any non-essential workers onto your site.

Give your workers staggered start and finish times so that your employees are not gathering in one area at one time; perhaps 15 minute or half an hour starting or finishing slots.

You can also restrict which people are working on the site and when to limit the amount of contact that your workers have with each other.

Encourage social distancing

Social distancing has been in place all around the UK since the lockdown started in March, and should be observed on your building site.

All workers should keep at least 2 metres apart at all times as part of social distancing. If you have high traffic areas, use durable tape to mark out 2-metre distances to help your workers maintain a safe distance.

If you use vehicles on your site, restrict the number of users, and make sure that they are thoroughly cleaned after every use. The driver should also remain in the vehicle whilst it is being loaded and unloaded to reduce the amount of contact with others.

Strict hygiene regulations in place

Members of your team should be encouraged to wash their hands before entering the site and before leaving to stop the virus from spreading into your site.

Any surface that has regular contact should also be regularly cleaned, such as desks, printers, telephones and other tools.

Security measures should also be taken to ensure that you don’t need to use secure site entrances such as fingerprint sensors.

Catering arrangements

A building site will usually have facilities to allow workers to heat food or have a hot drink; usually microwave ovens, kettles etc. However, as these items are difficult to sanitise, they should be removed from a working site. Workers are also being asked to not leave the site during working hours, so you should advise your team to bring food that doesn’t need to be heated and bring a reusable bottle to drink from during the day or maybe even a thermos to keep hot drinks in.

Take the following steps to ensure good hygiene in communal areas of your site.

Designated eating area

You should have only one area on the whole site for your team to have their meals. Allowing workers to take their meals anywhere on site is facilitating the virus’ spread. Ensure that strict social distancing is enforced in communal areas, perhaps by spacing out tables to be no closer than 2 metres to each other.

Your team should also wash their hands before entering and before leaving any social areas, as well as following strict cleaning protocols when using communal areas.

Everything in these areas should be cleaned frequently, including tables, chairs, door handles, vending machines and taps.

Staggered break times

Similarly to how you should stagger start and finish times to avoid high traffic, do the same with breaks.

Organise shift patterns with your team to ensure that no one is breaking social distancing measures when they are taking rest or lunch breaks.

Welfare facilities

Even though COVID-19 has meant unusual working conditions, the welfare of your team shouldn’t be compromised.

Take the following steps on your site to ensure that your workers’ welfare is being taken care of.

Toilet and changing facilities

Whilst an easy step for toilet hygiene is to limit how many people can visit a toilet or changing room at any one time, there are also other steps you can implement.

Ensure that there are adequate waste facilities to deal with the extra hand towels that your workers may use due to hygiene measures. You should also ensure that any waste that could be contaminated can be properly disposed of.

Both toilet facilities and changing rooms should also be thoroughly cleaned, again, paying special attention to taps, door handles, locks and toilet flush handles.

Travel to the site

Where possible, your team should travel to work on their own, rather than using public transport. If they would normally use public transport, encourage them to walk or cycle.

Parking arrangements should be arranged so that your team can employ good social distancing practices.

COVID-19 guidance

For more information on how to protect your business during the coronavirus pandemic, follow the links below to some of our articles.

Protecting your business with insurance

It’s important to make sure that you have the right insurance in place to protect the business that you have built.

Every business is different and has its own business insurance needs, which is why we work with some of the UK’s most well-known insurers to make sure that you are getting the right insurance cover for your business.

To help you and your business during these unprecedented circumstances, Premierline has taken steps to ensure that we can continue to offer our award-winning service.

All Premierline employees are now working from home, but our teams are well equipped to be able to answer your questions and help to support your business whilst the coronavirus pandemic continues. We have published answers to many frequently asked questions and our contact details on our customer information page.

Source: Zywave inc. – Risk Insights Construction: Site Operating Procedures During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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The information and tools contained in this guide are of a general informational nature and should not be relied upon as being suitable for any specific set of circumstances. We have used reasonable endeavours to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the contents but the information and tools do not constitute professional advice and must not be relied upon as such. To the extent permitted by law, we do not accept responsibility for any loss which may arise from reliance on the information or tools in our Insight Hub.