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Construction Group - letter from the Chair

IOSH Construction Group Chair's Update - April 2020

IOSH CG supports the view that essential or critical construction / maintenance work (clearly linked to the fight against Covid19) should carry on.  If work carries on we would remind employers of their duty of care to their employees.  

The Cabinet Office have not closed construction sites, so currently as long as it can be done safely and in accordance with the Public Health England guidance construction work can carry on. The latest Construction Leadership Council Site Operating Procedures (SOP) align with the latest Public Health England guidance: www.constructionleadershipcouncil.co.uk/news/site-operating-procedures-during-covid-19/ As this guidance changes, the SOP will be updated.

If for any reason, sites and companies are not able to comply with the PHE guidance (we believe logistically a huge number of sites won’t be able to), then they must cease activities until they can and construction workers should stay home in line with current government advice.

The blog issued by the CIC on the 24th March contains a list of some construction work that could be classed as essential or critical.  If the construction site you are involved with or work on, is debating whether they should stay open then please be involved in the discussions and measures to ensure it practices the governments social distancing and the Site Operating Procedures produced by the CLC absolutely to the fullest extent.  You and your organisation may even go further than those measures if you deem it appropriate.  One measure where we believe there could be an improvement is on access and allowing workers onto site, they could be for example checking temperatures before allowing site access. 

Overall remember, our approach and advice for workers on construction sites as well as travelling to and from them, must be led on a risk based approach. Putting the health, safety and wellbeing of all who would work on the construction site, the families and friends of the site works, and the wider public first and foremost in our thoughts.

The IOSH CG will continue to work with all key relevant bodies, and be available for our members during this challenging time to endeavour to support our members as best we can and offer accurate current advice.

On 20th March an industry Task Force was set up (Department for Business Energy & Industrial Strategy, Government, CIC, and CEOs of a small number of organisations, to protect the current status and future of the construction industry.  The Task Force is reporting daily to the Construction Minister and the chair of the CLC for guidance and to provide updates.

As IOSH CG members you will be involved in discussions and will be giving advice on this matter to the organisations you advise. At this stage I would remind you of the following, as although we are in exceptional circumstances, as IOSH members we are bound by this (use the code of conduct):

Act with integrity;

Demonstrate competence;

Show respect to all;

Your service – accurate and proportionate;

One final thought.  The construction industry has for a number of years, and more recently heavily pushed the fact that collaborative working, and teamwork is key going forward.  Clients, tier one contractors, the supply chain, and consultants now have an opportunity to actually show that is the case by dealing with the challenges in construction now, in an innovative and respectful way.  You, as IOSH CG members, can help lead in the way you behave and take part in these vital discussions.