Thursday, April 30, 2020
The next Government update on the Covid-19 restrictions will inform us whether the current Regulations, which are in place until 5 May, are going to be extended. In preparation for construction sites reopening, the Construction Industry Federation (“CIF”) has created a set of standard operating procedures (“SOPs”) as a guide to help employers prepare sites for workers to return. The CIF’s aim is to advise the construction sector on how to manage Covid-19 on a construction site throughout the pandemic in order to protect workers, their families and the community while also protecting livelihoods. Set out below are the issues raised and a short description of what the CIF suggest implementing in conjunction with an amended Construction Stage Health and Safety Plan.
1. Role of the Client
The client must support the implementation of the procedures and they must be implemented in accordance with the necessary contractual instructions from clients. A revised risk assessment should be conducted by the client and contractor before construction resumes to ensure the project can recommence in compliance with the SOP’s.
2. Health and Safety Documentation
All project health and safety documentation should to be reviewed and aligned with the SOP’s.
3. Site Management
Site management should assess risks and manage safety and health hazards in the workplace, including managing and instructing site workers on the various control measures and compliance.
The document declares that all Site Personnel should follow good hygiene and hand washing, as well as encouraging others to follow this advice.
5. Return to Work Process – Sites
Before construction sites commence following the shutdown period, the construction companies must:
6. Travel to / from Work
Workers should travel to the site in a company vehicle or their own vehicle, and when this is not possible, they should take public transport. If a worker uses public transport, they should be given a talk on how to reduce the possibility of infection.
7. Prevention of Cross Contamination
Cleaning procedures should be in place across the sites to prevent cross contamination, particularly in communal areas and at touch points. Where possible, arrangements should be met so that workers do not have to use the same tools.
8. Social Distancing
The document notes that a social distancing of minimum 2m is recommended to slow the transmission of Covid-19.
9. C-19 Compliance Officer
Depending on the size of the project, a number of persons should be appointed as a C-19 Compliance Officer and the document details the role and duties of the Officer.
10. Communal and Welfare Areas
In order to comply with social distancing of 2m, office arrangements, toilet facilities, canteens and eating arrangements and drying rooms may need to be reconfigured. The SOPs offer suggestions on how to do this.
11. Site Walkways and General Access
A one-way system on access routes throughout the sites should be implemented as well as increasing access points. Where a one- way system is not possible, pedestrian routes should be widened.
12. First Aid Responder Guidance
Standard infection control precautions should be applied when responding to any first aid incident in the workplace. If a person presents with symptoms associated with Covid-19, they should be treated as a suspected case. PPE equipment should be on hand to respond to first aid incidents.
13. Management of Meetings
Where possible, all meetings should be conducted remotely unless it is necessary to meet in person.
14. Management of Deliveries
Site management should ensure that all delivery transactions enforce physical distancing and all deliveries should be planned with protocols agreed.
15. Close Working
Close working should be eliminated but the document offers guidance related to risks for short term work that must be completed where workers are less than 2 metres apart.
16. COVID-19 Suspect / Confirmed Cases
The document outlines what one should do if an employee or a member of the public becomes unwell and believes they have been exposed to Covid-19. If a confirmed case is identified in your workplace, the HSE will provide the relevant staff with advice.
17. Return to Work Process – Worker
A protocol must be followed to ensure a worker who is out of work due to Covid-19 is fit to return by means of self-declaration. Fitness for work must be considered with regard to whether their illness poses a risk to the individual themselves and to other individuals in the workplace.
18. Cleaning Spaces following Suspected/Confirmed Cases
To reduce the risk of passing the infection to other people, it is recommended to clean an area with normal household disinfectant while using PPE after a suspected Covid-19 case has passed through. The document further details laundry and waste management guidelines.
19. Statutory Training Updates
For further information or advice, please contact any member of our Construction, Project and PPP Team.