Safe working environments in construction are paramount

Latest News Tue, Mar 24, 2020 11:35 AM

In a televised address, the Prime Minister announced a series of strict measures aimed at limiting the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

He announced that people must now stay home or risk facing fines. People will only be allowed to leave their home for the following purposes:

  • shopping for basic necessities, as infrequently as possible
  • one form of exercise a day - for example a run, walk, or cycle - alone or with members of their household;
  • any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person; and
  • travelling to and from work, but only where this is absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home.

The Prime Minister said: “No Prime Minister wants to enact measures like this. I know the damage that this disruption is doing and will do to people’s lives, to their businesses and to their jobs.”

He added “But at present there are just no easy options. The way ahead is hard, and it is still true that many lives will sadly be lost.”

Robert Jenrick, housing secretary, provided some clarity and confirmed that workers who can work from home should do so, and people working on sites may continue to do so, but should follow Public Health England guidance on social distancing.

Another government official, Michael Gove, has also shed some light on the situation. He reaffirmed Jenrick’s statement and said that in line with other countries, construction work and essential manufacturing will continue in the UK.

Richard Beresford, chief executive of the National Federation of Builders (NFB) commented: “We welcome the Prime Ministers statement as the safety of the public is of utmost importance. Our members have sent office workers home but there is a desire from industry to keep working on site. We are therefore analysing the varied types of working environments, for example, open-air, empty buildings, isolated homes and shared spaces so that we can continue to give tailored advice and guidance to members.

The COVID-19 pandemic is going to go on for months, therefore we must ensure that industry has the necessary tools and information available to continue operating in the safest way possible.”


Greater clarity is needed from the Government with respect to construction sites remaining open, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) in response to the Government's announcement yesterday enforcing further restrictions on travel.

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said: “Our members want to do the right thing, but the advice coming from Government is anything but clear. I am calling on the Government to tell my members, today, whether they can continue to go on site and work. Small builders cannot work from home, but without cash grants available now, they risk seeing their livelihoods lost.

Berry concluded: “Mixed messages are spreading further anxiety at a time when hundreds of small builders face immediate lost earning, having to make their staff redundant, and seeing their companies go to the wall. The £25,000 grant must be extended to construction, support is needed for the self-employed which make up 37% of the industry, and applications for the Job Retention Scheme must be brought forward.”

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