How to Social Distance on Construction Sites
As an employer, you are legally required to manage and assess the risks of COVID-19 in your workplace, meaning you are responsible for protecting your employees and their health and safety. Eliminating the risk of contracting COVID-19 is impossible, but minimising the risk should be a priority for any businesses returning to work.
With the construction industry now being actively encouraged to return to the workplace, there are several necessary steps and procedures which should be enforced by employers and followed by employees in order to make your site as safe as possible to work.
1. Increase the frequency of hand washing/hand sanitising stations. Hand sanitiser should be available at the entrance and exits of the sites with dedicated hand wash zones.
2. Comply to social distancing guidelines, 2 metres apart when possible. This can be enforced using one way systems for circulation, and marked two meter areas in communal, shared spaces such as break rooms.
3. When social distancing guidelines are difficult to follow, you firstly need to consider the importance of the task at hand, does it need to be completed? If yes, mitigation methods should be put in place to limit the risk of infection. This includes, minimising the time spent doing the activity, using screens or barriers to separate people, using back-to-back or side-to-side working rather than face-to-face when possible and using fixed teams or pairing to limit how many people each individual comes into contact with.
4. Meetings and project reviews to be limited to video conferencing when possible.
5. Increased cleaning procedures, there should be frequent cleaning of equipment and work areas between uses to prevent the spread of the virus from individual to individual, including sanitisation of tools. Increased cleaning should also take place on frequently touched surfaces and communal areas.
A healthy workplace is one at which employers and employees can come together to solve issues within the workplace. If, as an employee, you have concerns over your health and safety within the workplace, raising them to your employers should be enough to get a situation changed and resolved. If you do not feel your concerns are being dealt with seriously enough, you have the following options:
1. Contact your employee representative
2. Contact your trade union if you have one
3. Contact HSE at: Telephone: 0300 790 6787 (Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 10pm) or Online: working safely enquiry form
It is impossible to completely eradicate the risk of contracting COVID-19 when in contact with other people, but by following government guidelines correctly, you are able to drastically reduce the risk to your employees health and wellbeing. By re-opening sites, you are giving your company a head start during these difficult times and also making a positive impact to the damaged economy. If you feel unsure at any point around any of the requirements, or if you feel unsafe and uncomfortable in your working environment, then click this link for more information and guidance.
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