Face coverings in construction

Face coverings in construction

The Construction Leadership Council (CLC) has updated its information on face coverings following the manadotory use of them in areas of retail open to the public and on public transport, in taxis and private hire vehicles.

The guidance covers the use of face coverings on construction sites in response to coronavirus to help provide a consistent approach across the industry. It is based on Government guidance in England and other restrictions and advice may apply in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Face coverings should also be worn in other crowded and enclosed indoor places where people come into contact with others they don’t normally meet. As part of their risk assessment, employers should consider whether to ask workers to wear a face covering. Workers may also choose to wear a face covering where it is not legally required and should be supported to do so.

The use of face coverings and/or PPE is not required in response to coronavirus whilst carrying out construction activities.

Updated COVID Advice for the Construction Sector

Updated COVID Advice for the Construction Sector

The Government has introduced a number of temporary COVID‐19 measures from 30 November in response to the emergence of the Omicron variant in the UK:

  • Close contacts of suspected Omicron cases will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace and legally required to self‐isolate for 10 days, regardless of their vaccination status or age
  • Face coverings must be worn on public transport and in shops
  • Everyone entering the UK from abroad must take a PCR test within 48 hours and self‐isolate until they receive a negative result.

FIS Chief Executive Iain McIlwee said:

New restrictions do not have significant impact on what we legally have to do in the workplace, but are a reminder to be careful and to consider reinforcing the use of facemasks and ensuring that regular testing is taking place.  Beyond the safety of people, which must always be at the forefront of a business leaders mind, this is about  protecting our businesses in a time of severe skilled worker shortages.

The changes were discussed at the latest industry call with Construction Minister Lee Rowley this week, and construction sites are urged to continue to minimise the risk of spreading the virus. The Site Operating Procedures remain available as a reference document and the Build UK COVID‐19 flowchart has been updated in line with the new rules. The CLC is currently reviewing its guidance on the Use of Face Coverings in Construction following publication of the detailed Government guidance yesterday.

The Government has confirmed that the measures will be reviewed in three weeks’ time and we will keep the guidance updated.

CICV Forum has revised its free good practice guide for construction professionals, containing advice on self-isolation.

It doesn’t hurt to revisit signage to remind people on site FIS, with the help of CICV has produced a Mask for Task, Cover for Covid poster.

Vaccination guidance

The Government has announced that everyone who is currently eligible for the COVID‐19 booster vaccine can now book from three months after their second dose and all adults aged 18 and over will be offered a booster by the end of January. Whilst the majority of the UK population is vaccinated, there are a number of issues that employers need to be aware of and FIS Associate Member Citation has updated its practical guidance on developing and implementing a vaccination policy for staff, which covers whether a policy is required, recording vaccination status, and making it mandatory for staff to be vaccinated.

Visit the FIS Covid Hub for the latest updates

Construction Leadership Council future proofs COVID-19 contracts guide

Construction Leadership Council future proofs COVID-19 contracts guide

A refreshed suite of guidance on managing COVID-19 within construction contracts has been published by the Business Model workstream of the Construction Leadership Council.

The updated documents now include revised information on future-proofing JCT / NEC amendments for new contracts to ensure that if circumstances change parties take a collaborative approach. The suite also provides templates to allow parties to formally record how they can avoid disputes.

The pandemic continues to have a significant impact on the construction sector. Industry has collaborated to address the challenges that have arisen, but concern remains that businesses and their clients could still be bogged down by expensive and lengthy disputes on the impact of the virus on projects.

The publication:
• Updates and brings all guidance and corresponding templates into one place, in an easy-to-use navigable format for reference.
• Provides additional templates to allow parties to conclude their collaboration as a formal adjustment to their contracts.
• Provides a range of templates to support those at different stages of their contracts.

Commenting, Steve Bratt, Chair of the CLC’s Business Models Workstream said:

“Over the last eighteen months, the CLC has advocated for responsible and fair behaviour in both existing and future contractual arrangements to secure the long-term health of the construction industry.

“We supported companies and their clients by publishing extensive contractual guidance for COVID-19 which has been positively received.
“As our industry continues to recover, the CLC has reviewed, updated and added to the suite of contractual guidance helping those on the front line to Build Back Better.”

The guidance documents are available here


Government not moving to ‘Plan B’ but public urged to remain vigilant

Government not moving to ‘Plan B’ but public urged to remain vigilant

In light of rising COVID‐19 case numbers, Health Secretary Sajid Javid gave a press conference on Wednesday and urged people to get vaccinated and take precautions against the virus, including meeting outdoors, wearing masks in crowded enclosed spaces, and taking regular lateral flow tests. Whilst acknowledging that the pandemic is not over and the virus will be with us for the long term, he confirmed that the Government would not be moving to ‘Plan B‘ at this stage but would remain vigilant.

Construction sites should continue to minimise the risk of COVID‐19 and the Site Operating Procedures remain available as a reference document. There is also the Use of Face Coverings in Construction and sites may wish to maintain workplace testing programmes. The Build UK COVID‐19 flowchart is regularly updated on the actions to take if a worker has the virus or needs to self‐isolate, and FIS Associate Member Citation has published guidance for employers on the key questions to think about when developing and implementing a vaccination policy for staff.

Long Covid safety-critical roles checklist

Long Covid safety-critical roles checklist

The CICV Forum, in which FIS is actively involved, has produced an advice document offering a practical checklist that will help employers identify and help safety-critical workers who may be suffering from the ongoing effects of Long Covid.

Long Covid is a condition that, at the time of writing in October 2021, currently affects approximately 60,000 people in the UK – and numbers will inevitably continue to rise as we move through the pandemic. It is defined as “Signs and symptoms that develop during or following an infection consistent with COVID-19 which continue for more than 12 weeks and are not explained by an alternative diagnosis.”

Sufferers can require practical, medical, and emotional support similar to that already offered by employers for conditions such as cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome (also known as ME) and diabetes..

As some of the symptoms of Long Covid could have an impact on safety-critical roles, it is important to consider any new conditions that may have developed. Health issues or conditions that affect an individual’s performance or present a risk of sudden incapacity could have serious consequences.

The practical checklist is available to download at https://cicvforum.co.uk/downloads/

COVID-19 spot checks could lead to prosecution

COVID-19 spot checks could lead to prosecution

HSE is continuing to carry out spot checks and inspections on all types of businesses, in all areas, to ensure they are working safely to reduce the risk of COVID.

During the spot checks, HSE provides advice and guidance to manage risk and protect workers, customers and visitors. However, where some businesses are not managing this, we will take immediate action.

This can range from providing specific advice, issuing enforcement notices, and stopping certain work practices until they are made safe. Where businesses fail to comply, this could lead to prosecution.

HSE recently prosecuted a construction contractor following a spot inspection.

Working to manage the transmission of COVID means businesses need to conduct a risk assessment to understand the measures they may require to protect workers and others. Further information is available on working safely during the pandemic.