In Covid update

With the Governments in both England and Wales having offered some relaxation for the construction sector of the strict social-distancing rules, it seems clear that many more sites are likely to re-open over the coming days.

The Public Health England guidance for Construction states: “Where it is not possible to follow the social distancing guidelines in full in relation to a particular activity, you should consider whether that activity needs to continue for the site to continue to operate, and, if so, take all the mitigating actions possible to reduce the risk of transmission.”

Guidance on the ‘Use of private vehicles and car pooling’ is also provided in the PHE’s Transport Businesses guidance which states: “If the journey is essential, such as travel to work, and there is no option but to share a car with people who are not part of the same household, journeys should be shared with the same individuals and with the minimum number of people at any one time.”

CLC Site Operating Procedures Version 3 

The CLC has released a new version of its Site Operating Procedures to reflect the above guidance. Key items in this guidance include specific help for construction, manufacturing, and travelling to work. While everyone is keen to ensure all employees are safe, the guidance provides methodologies to allow some degree of normal working. There are also examples of best practice and how this guidance can be used in proactive ways.

The key changes in Version 3 include:

  • Confirmation that the HSE is the enforcing authority for PHE guidelines
  • The need for sites to monitor the implementation of the procedures
  • Further details on who should not travel to work
  • Guidance for those who have no option but to share transport to work
  • Information on the hierarchy of controls which should be implemented to reduce the risk of transmission where social distancing of 2 metres cannot be achieved
  • Information on first aid and emergency service response.

Support for manufacturing sector 

There also appears to be full Government support for work to continue in the manufacturing sector. Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, Alok Sharma, wrote an open letter to the manufacturing sector on 8 April thanking all those that are at work and saying: “Manufacturing is a critical part of our economy and I would like to be clear that there is no restriction on manufacturing continuing under the current rules”.

Procurement and Contract Guidance

Having become increasingly concerned about the management of payment in the supply chain, the CLC has issued a strong statement requesting all construction businesses to continue to pay in accordance with agreed contractual terms. The CLC statement on payments and contracts notes that firms should not be threatening to invoke penalty or other contractual clauses, when it should be the priority of all clients and firms to sustain the industry.

As reported before Easter, the Cabinet Office has released construction-specific guidance to its Policy Procurement Notice (PPN) 02/20, which outlines how public sector clients can support the supply chain during the coronavirus crisis. Build UK has also issued Guidance on Contractual Issues caused by Coronavirus.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has provided guidance outlining temporary measures to relax competition between businesses, in order to ensure that essential supplies are available and key workers can travel safely to their place of work.

The ASFP is continuing to collate and distil available guidance and pass it on to members to aid with their planning. Please see the below, in addition to the information supplied in previous Coronavirus Updates.

A range of ASFP learning resources are also available for those working remotely who wish to update their skills.

Construction Industry Council Survey

The Construction Industry Council is conducting a survey to investigate what members feel are likely to be the biggest issues following the end of the Coronavirus lockdown, with some people fearing that there may be a number of issues, that delay or at least hamper a quick return to productivity. The ASFP encourages its members to take part in the survey which wil only take 2 minutes to complete.

Please click on the following link to the survey https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/82DVM5Q

ASFP STATEMENT TO MEMBERS

The ASFP is aware of the difficulties our members are facing in deciding whether or not to continue to operate on construction sites or in manufacturing and supply activities. Ultimately, the decision can only be made by individual member companies based on their own assessment of the safety of each site or activity.

However, the ASFP will be supportive of whatever decision is made by each individual member. We advise members that if they cannot implement and abide by the CLC Site operating procedures or conduct work in line with PHE guidance for Construction and Manufacturing and processing businesses, they halt work on the affected sites until operating procedures can be met or risks mitigated to an appropriate level.

We understand that this will present issues on site, and appreciate the difficulty of the situation. As a result, the ASFP stands with its members during this time and will support their decision, whatever it may be. The safety and welfare of our members, their workforce and in turn their families, remains paramount in these unprecedented times. The ASFP will fully support its membership in any way it can as necessary.

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