We’re in the middle of a second national lockdown, and the construction industry has been told to continue operating. But how do workers make sure they have optimal COVID safety measures on site or at their places of work?
There have been many guidelines set out for workers in the construction industry to follow to make sure they are keeping themselves, and people they’re working with, as safe as possible.
Many of these are the standard regulations many of us are following in our day-to-day lives. These include social distancing where possible, wearing masks when we’re near others, washing and sanitizing our hands regularly, etc.
If you work in construction, you may find yourself working in different areas. These could be on site, from a workshop or factory, or at someone’s house. There are many guidelines put in place, some that apply to all these places, and some that only apply to certain ones.
Guidelines that apply wherever you are:
- Complete a COVID-19 risk assessment and share with all staff. This will help highlight the risks you may be most likely to encounter and how to minimize them.
- Clean more often. You should make sure you’re cleaning surfaces that are being touched a lot by different people, more often. Also ask everyone to use hand sanitizer and wash their hands frequently.
- Ask customers and visitors to wear face coverings. Where it is required to do so, people should wear face coverings, especially around people they don’t normally meet.
- Make sure everyone is social distancing. You can put up signs and create one way systems to make it easier for people to keep a safe distance from one another.
- Increase ventilation. Where possible, keep doors and windows open and run ventilation systems.
- Take part in NHS test and trace. This will keep a record of all staff and visitors for 21 days.
- Turn people with coronavirus symptoms away. Whether it’s staff, a customer, or a visitor, anyone with symptoms of coronavirus should not come into a place of work and should self-isolate.
There are more specific things to be aware of in certain places.
For example, in factories or warehouses you should:
- Only wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) where appropriate. Quite often in these settings, workers will already be wearing PPE, which should be continued. However, additional PPE may not be effective. Public Health England can advise on how and when to use PPE.
- Work with the same team every day. Create shift patterns and work with the same people to reduce the number of people individuals come into contact with.
- Arrange workspaces to keep staff safe. You can create barriers between workstations or distance them from each other.
- Inbound and outbound goods. Try to minimise deliveries and frequency of handling and use the same pairs of people for load handling where needed.
- Try and keep noise to a minimum. This will reduce the need for shouting.
When you’re working at someone’s house you should:
- Explain safety measures to customers before you enter their home. Make sure everyone understands that they need to maintain social distancing from each other.
- Avoid crowded areas. Make sure everyone identifies busy areas in the house and avoids moving through them as much as possible.
- Limit contact with customers. Make sure you’re not using things from people’s houses, for example taking food and drinks. Take your breaks outside where possible. Avoid sharing tools and other items.
- Take extra precautions when working in a household with people at higher risk. Make sure you take extra measures to avoid contact.
- Communicate and train. Keep all staff and customers up to date with safety measures.
When working on construction sites or other outdoor areas:
- Reduce crowding. Reduce the amount of people in each space so to keep socially distanced. Try separating sites into separate zones.
- Work within the same teams. Create shift patterns and work with the same teams to reduce contact with other people.
- Arrange workspaces to keep staff apart. Spread out workstations and create barriers between where needed.
- Clean shared equipment. Any tools, machines, or vehicles that are shared must be cleaned frequently. Try and limit the number of people who use them and make sure individuals are washing and sanitizing hands more regularly or after touching any shared equipment.
- Communicate and train. Keep everyone up to date with safety measures.
These are guidelines that everyone should always try and follow to the best of their efforts. However, it is important to remember that every new site you work at may have different safety measures in place and that before any work is carried out everyone must familiarise themselves with these measures.