As Scotland’s building sector emerges from prolonged shutdown, the Construction Industry Coronavirus (CICV) Forum has issued expanded health and safety guidance to help steer companies through the crisis and back to work.
The Forum, which was established specifically to deal with the effects of the closure on the industry, has played a critical role in providing clarity and transparency at a time when firms were facing their greatest existential threat in living memory.
As part of this work, the Forum has produced a comprehensive 42-page document, Safe Return and Restart, which is designed to underpin the Safe Operating Guidance released last week and produced in collaboration between Construction Scotland, Scottish Government and across industry.
Rebecca Crosland, Forum member and Health and Safety Advisor at the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA), says, “Safe Return and Restart is an important contribution to the protection of workforce and to help minimise the risk of further spread of infection.
“It is intended to provide detailed guidance to businesses of all sizes across all construction activity in line with the Scottish Government and Health Protection Scotland recommendations on the management of COVID-19.”
The expanded guidance covers a wide range of issues and proposes key control measures, including physical distancing, hygiene, travel and prevention of cross-contamination, as well as advising on H&S documentation, site management, deliveries, meetings and training.
Pete Walker, Forum member and Director of Health, Safety and Training at the British Constructional Steelwork Association, adds, “Health and safety has never been more important and it is paramount that it is not compromised at this crucial time.
“The entire sector is relieved about planning to get back to delayed projects, but sites must be aware that there can be no derogation to the usual health and safety legislative requirements. If an activity cannot be undertaken safely, it should not be undertaken.”
Craig Hartley, Head of Health, Safety and Improvement at UK-wide external property refurbishment provider Hugh LS McConnell Ltd, who was involved in the creation of the new document, furthers, “This is an important step forward in providing clear and concise guidance.
“The discussion until now has been whether it would be safe to return and, now that that decision has been taken, it is up to everyone in the sector to make sure that when work begins that we operate in accordance with the highest possible standards.
“The guidance, like all CICV Forum advice, is clear and easy to follow and I think it will be welcomed by responsible constructors who realise it provides a road map back to a viable and vibrant construction industry in Scotland.”
The Forum, made up of trade associations, professional services bodies, companies and individuals, stepped into the fray immediately in March with advice on how to operate safely while carrying out emergency or essential work.