CIC issues statement on site closures

Graham Watts, Chief Executive of the The Construction Industry Council, has issued a statement on safety protocols and the need for clarity from the government.

He said:

This is a distillation of the advice from today’s BEIS/CLC Industry Task Force on site closures.

The official line from government as of this moment appears to be that construction (and manufacturing) should continue – because these are jobs that cannot be undertaken from home, as per Robert Jenrick’s message last night.

There is, however, a lack of clarity on this which urgently requires to be resolved today. There is a briefing with the BEIS Secretary of State late this afternoon at which we are hoping to get more clarity.  

The CLC view is that work should only continue if:

  • it can be carried out under the guidance issued by Public Health England;
  • it can be undertaken without any compromising on safety and health;
  • in accordance with the Site Operating Procedure published earlier today;
  • and workers can travel safely and responsibly to sites.   

There has to be a safety first message in all of this.

There also needs to be clarity on criticality.  Some projects are urgent and cannot be shut down (renovations in the health sector to create more capacity to manage coronavirus is an example; nuclear work; vital infrastructure; urgent repairs that would otherwise lead to loss of water, power etc – there will be a long list).   I will be writing to members about this separately.  

However, construction sites cannot just be left.   They need to be prepared for closure and left in a way that is safe and secure.   Work is being done on guidance about how to shut down sites safely. 

So, the bottom line is that construction sites can only remain open if they meet these conditions.  If it is impossible to meet the 2m rule for example then they should not remain open unless it causes an unsafe or dangerous situation for them to close or the project is deemed to be critical to immediate societal need  and then this needs to be carefully managed and risk-assessed.

I hope that this is helpful and I will keep you updated.

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COVID-19 Building Safety