Engineering Services Bodies Issue Coronavirus Site Safety Guides

Leading engineering services sector bodies, ECA and BESA, have jointly developed two new guides to help contractors to manage coronavirus-related issues on site.

The new guides will be freely available to the wider industry during the current emergency. They provide sector-relevant guidance for engineering and building services contractors working across construction and FM in two specific areas:

• ‘Specific Environments’ (where there may be higher risk of COVID-19 transmission); and
• ‘Close proximity working’ (less than 2m).

The new guides:

– Align with the hierarchy of preventative measures shown in the Construction Leadership Council Site Operating Procedures, based on guidance from Public Health England;

– Do not recommend the deployment of respiratory protective equipment (RPE) for general site activities, most notably where social distancing is possible; and

– Recommend that any decision to deploy RPE in site-specific situations should be based on risk assessment.

The guides have been drawn up with the support of a COVID-19 Expert Panel made up of BESA and ECA safety practitioners. The panel is also helping ECA and the BESA to provide informed, practical comments on site health and safety issues to the government and industry bodies who are generating overarching guidance in this area.

Rebecca Crosland, BESA Health & Safety Advisor, says, “It is imperative that there is further guidance out there to help keep the industry safe. The health, wellbeing and safety of everyone on site must be a priority during the COVID-19 health crisis. Businesses must exercise their duty of care under legislation to ensure all workers are protected and ensure that any critical information related to their health and safety is communicated clearly and then implemented.”

Paul Reeve, ECA’s CSR Director and a member of the CLC’s working group on site safety measures, adds, “The CLC SOP is an overarching industry document, but it refers to the need for sector guidance. These two guides are the start of joint ECA and BESA activity to produce more detailed, sector-relevant information that’s desperately needed by many engineering services contractors.

“They aim to help with the practical management of coronavirus-related issues on site, which may include the challenges associated with doing essential work in closer proximity than two metres.”

ECA and BESA welcome comments on the new guides from across the industry.

The guides are available on the ECA website:

GN1 – https://www.eca.co.uk/downloads/business-support/health-and-safety/coronavirus/draft-covid-19-and-engineering-services-guidance

GN2 – https://www.eca.co.uk/downloads/business-support/health-and-safety/coronavirus/draft-covid-19-and-engineering-services-guidan-(1)

About ECA and BESA – Working together to represent the engineering services sector

• ECA and BESA collaborate on a range of issues in the engineering services sector. The partnership brings together the two leading associations representing engineering services; some 4,000 businesses with a combined annual turnover of almost £10bn.

• Together, ECA and BESA cover a range of engineering, design, installation and facilities management activity, including electrical, heating, plumbing, energy management, micro-generation, ductwork, ventilation, fire and security, and wireless systems.

• Joint work includes representation in key areas like contracts, procurement, payment, and health and safety.

Overall, the engineering services sector accounts for some 40% of UK construction/maintenance turnover.

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