Construction left in limbo by lockdown

Grant Prior 1 week ago
Share

Construction sites are still able to operate despite Boris Johnson’s new curbs on daily life revealed on Monday night.

But pressure is growing on clients and contractors to shut some sites down as worried workers highlight crowded conditions breaking social distancing rules putting operatives at risk.

Johnson said people will only be allowed to leave their homes for a handful of reasons including “travelling to and from work, but only where this is absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home.”

The Construction Leadership Council said it is “doing our utmost to keep construction sites operational wherever it is practical and safe to do so.”

The CLC has published a full list of site operating procedures here designed to protect site workers.

Chair Andy Mitchell said: “We are in exceptional circumstances, and are doing our utmost to keep construction sites operational wherever it is practical and safe to do so.

“Whilst the guidance from Public Health England may change in future, for the time being construction sites of any size that are operating during the Coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic need to ensure they are protecting their workforce and minimising the risk of spread of infection.

“To implement the Government’s social distancing recommendation the Construction Leadership Council has now published Site Operating Procedures.

“I would strongly recommend that these procedures are implemented by every operational construction site, with the aim of us having a standard approach across the industry that all firms and workers can adopt.

“It is also vital that the health and safety requirements of any construction activity must not be compromised at this time.

“If an activity cannot be undertaken safely due to a lack of suitably qualified personnel being available, or social distancing being implemented, it should not take place.

“We are aware that emergency services are also under great pressure and may not be in a position to respond as quickly as usual.”

But pictures of operatives crammed into canteens have painted an image of a two-tier industry.

Many contractors are doing the right thing and implementing social distancing rules on site to keep their jobs running and workers safe.

While others are carrying on regardless putting at risk the continued operation of all sites.

One contracting director told the Enquirer: “We are doing everything right in terms of keeping the operatives at a safe distance and its perfectly possible to do that with the right planning and leadership.

“It’s a bit like when you go out and about in everyday life. Most people respect the new rules but some don’t care.

“Our work cannot be done from home and we want to keep sites going and make them safe for everyone.

“We need the Government to realise that most contractors are trying to do this properly and we shouldn’t all be tarred with the same brush as those not doing things in the right way.

“We want to continue building and most of our operatives want to keep working as long as it’s safe.

“Industries like finance and manufacturing are keeping going and construction is just as vital to the future of the economy.”

Johnson’s announcement is causing huge confusion among construction companies.

One said: “We’re not sure whether the government classify construction as essential work at the moment.

“We need clarity quickly because clients are putting pressure on us to keep working while some operatives want to stop coming to site.”

The only additional advice from Government after Johnson’s speech came from Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick who stated on Twitter: “Advice for the housing, construction and building maintenance industries: If you can work from home, do so.

If you are working on site, you can continue to do so. But follow Public Health England guidance on social distancing.

Meanwhile, London Mayor Sadiq Khan joined Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in calling for construction sites to be shutdown.

He said: “I have expressed my concerns to the Prime Minister directly.

“In my view the only construction workers that should be working are those that we need for safety.

“I think this is a time to understand the scale of the challenge we are facing, these are extraordinary circumstances, of course it is important to recognise this is an economic and a social emergency, but more important it is a public health emergency.”

Latest news

Boris urged to save UK construction industry

Industry leaders demand tax breaks, retentions returned and quick payment from clients
10 hours ago

Laing O’Rourke cuts pay for 8,000 workers

Contractors confirms cuts of up to 30% as part of "war effort" during coronavirus crisis
9 hours ago

Free training cash offer extended to larger companies

CITB grants of up to £25,000 now available to bigger contractors
4 hours ago

Kier closes Reading office with over 40 job losses

Lack of pipeline work and cost-saving plan cited as reason for closure
15 hours ago

Amey pledges full pay for sick and self isolating workers

U-turn on statutory sick pay after claim workers faced wealth or health choice
15 hours ago

Taylor Wimpey cuts exec pay and bonuses

Board takes 30% pay cut and cancels today's 2% annual pay increase
14 hours ago

Secretary of State pays tribute to construction industry

Letter from Alok Sharma spells out current official government guidance on keeping sites open
1 day ago

Amey/McAlpine told to start M6 junction 19 job

Enabling works get underway on £50m Cheshire motorway junction
14 hours ago

Clugston and Covid 19 sink Leeds civils firm

Coronavirus contract termination with zero payment notice proves final straw for Oaklands
15 hours ago

Boost your online presence – join the Enquirer Directory

Site for suppliers and buyers showcases products, services and latest stories
2 years ago

Giant Battersea Power Station site shut until end of April

Client decides to extend work pause after discussions with Mace and McAlpine
15 hours ago

Coronavirus update for construction: Wednesday April 1

The latest advice and information from industry trade bodies
14 hours ago

Network Rail calls for fresh engineering ideas for tunnel upgrades

Hunt on for less disruptive solutions to upgrading ageing railway tunnels
15 hours ago

Police stops create more confusion for contractors

Sites can stay open but officers are trying to stop builders getting to work
2 days ago

William Hare chief executive dies after contracting coronavirus

David Hodgkiss was the grandson of steel company founder William Hare
2 days ago

Costain banks on critical projects to save 50% of revenue

Directors join ranks of firms taking 30% pay cut
2 days ago

Plans go in for £258m Birmingham resi tower

Moda submits 722 homes for rent plan as it looks beyond coronavirus epidemic
2 days ago

Coronavirus update for construction: Tuesday 31

The latest advice and information from industry trade bodies
2 days ago

BAM Construct restarts work on sites

Mace pauses all work for another week under "rolling suspension"
2 days ago

Hard hat cameras help sites keep working remotely

Technology helping contractors cope during coronavirus crisis
2 days ago

Laing O’Rourke top bosses take 30% pay cut

Around 90 senior directors will see salaries reduced
2 days ago

Kier cuts staff salaries by up to 20%

Salary cuts among 6,500 staff as core sites remain open, but Kier Living jobs closed
3 days ago

Police threaten to fine contractors on way to work

Willmott Dixon asks subcontractors and staff to carry letters to avoid fines
5 days ago

Taylor Woodrow return to profit lifts Vinci UK

Civils arm saw 13 of 17 projects it bid delayed or cancelled
2 days ago

JCB reopens factory to start building ventilators

Plant giant will fabricate steel control panel housings for Dyson designed ventilators
3 days ago

Steel and brickwork trade bodies take stand on Covid 19 safety

Trade bodies lead fight back against bullying main contractors and clients
3 days ago

£300m London new-build housing deal winners

Ardmore, Bouygues, Kier and Midgard win places for first time for £10m-plus schemes
3 days ago

Builders in cross-fire as some clients in Scotland fail to halt work

Contractors blame clients for not instructing work to stop
3 days ago

Unsafe cladding replacement work a priority to continue

Latest government coronavirus construction policy update
4 days ago

Live webinar for contractors interested in £600m power plant

Virtual procurement event for major north London project: Register now
3 days ago

Contractor services