Union calls for construction workers to wear masks

Grant Prior 4 months ago
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Construction union Unite is demanding that workers wear masks when they cannot keep to the two metre social distancing guidelines on site.

The union has written to the Construction Leadership Council highlighting its concerns about the current site operating procedures (SOP).

The fourth and latest version of the industry-standard SOP was published last week.

It states: “If you are not able to work while maintaining a two metre distance, you should consider whether the activity should continue” and adds “that management should minimise the frequency and time workers are within two metres of each other.”

The guidance also states that “workplaces should not encourage the precautionary use of extra PPE to protect against Coronavirus (COVID-19).”

In his letter, Unite construction officer Jerry Swain states: “The SOP could and should be revised to explicitly state that the job should not be undertaken without appropriate PPE, which of course would include masks.”
 
Unite also wants workers supplied with masks if more than one person travels together in a work vehicle and social distancing cannot be maintained.
 
Swain said: “Since the pandemic began, the CLC has become the go to place for construction sites trying to operate and keep workers safe.

“It is essential that the information in the site operating procedures is clear, comprehensive and complete. As the procedures are currently written, the health of workers is placed at risk.

“Unite has been constructive in the development of these procedures throughout and has fed its views into the CLC. It is imperative that the CLC ends the confusion and republishes revised procedures.

“No one should be required to work within two metres of someone else on a construction site and on the extremely rare occasion when this is simply not possible then the full appropriate PPE must be issued.”

The CLC said: “We are working closely with the Government, leadership of all of the major contractors and other stakeholders across the industry – including an ongoing constructive dialogue with Unite and the GMB – to make sure that the Site Operations Procedures reflect the appropriate public health guidance and enable construction work to safely continue.

“Our first priority is the health, safety and wellbeing of everyone that works on construction sites in the UK; and working with stakeholders across industry, the unions and with Public Health England and the HSE to ensure this.

“We are currently reviewing the points raised in their letter and will provide a formal response on each issue.”

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