Covid-19: Safety on building site advice
Monday, May 18th, 2020
We’ve broken down the government’s ‘Working safely during COVID-19 in construction and other outdoor work’ guidance released on 11th May in a separate article here. It’s a questions and answers layout – there’s a download of a 3-page quick guide, as well. Although of course there’s no substitute for looking at the full government guide which you’ll find here or producing a Covid-19 Risk Assessment.
It advises on how to work safely, with practical considerations on how this can be applied on site. But of course every building firm is different, just as every site is too. So you will need to translate the guidance into the specific actions that you and your team should personally take. Bottom line, the government is clear that workers should not be forced into an unsafe workplace.
But in this piece, we’re touching on the legal ramifications.
Why it’s important to follow the guidance – the reality
There was a sobering statement from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on 11.5.20. It was noted that there were 87 coronavirus-related deaths of workers in the ‘skilled construction and building trades’ occupation category. Significantly, this compared to 61 deaths in the category of ‘health professionals’.
Don’t risk fees, enforcement or shutdown
- ALL companies must undertake a Covid-19 Risk Assessment. A written Covid-19 Risk Assessment is also mandatory for any building firm with five or more people. Note, you must complete it in consultation with your workers. The HSE have made it very clear, do not just copy an off-the-shelf example and put your company name to it. This would not satisfy the law and would not protect your employees. You must think about the specific hazards and controls your business needs.
- As an employer, if you don’t enforce social distancing measures you could have works suspended and face fines
- Consequences range from advice to an enforcement notice – a fine for breaching regulations or a prohibition notice
- Workers with concerns should talk to their employer and – if they don’t get ‘any traction’ – contact the HSE, or local authorities
- Up to £14m extra funding has been made available to the watchdog for extra call centre staff, inspectors and kit
Don’t comply with social distancing and similar measures, and you could have works suspended and face fines, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has warned. Consequences range from advice to an enforcement notice – a fine for breaching regulations or a prohibition notice (shutting down some or all activity on site). And no they’re not too busy/short-staffed to ignore sites that aren’t Covid-19 secure…!
Business Secretary Alok Sharma has told workers who have concerns that they should talk to their employer. If they don’t get a positive response they should contact the Health and Safety Executive, or their local authorities.
Up to £14m extra funding has been made available to the watchdog for extra call centre staff, inspectors and kit. It would seem clear the government are clearly going to be in hot pursuit of anyone not upholding their legal obligations.
Health & Safety software that takes the strain
Our new update to the HBXL Health & Safety Xpert 2020 software includes all the documents relating to Covid-19 to help ensure building firms are ‘Covid-19 secure’ – and legal:
- Covid-19 Risk Assessment for site – all firms with 5 or more employees must record one by law
- Covid-19 Risk Assessment for office – all firms with 5 or more employees must record one by law
- Covid-19 Toolbox Talk
- Company Health & Safety Policy with Covid-19 clauses
- Pre-Construction Info with Covid-19 clauses
- Construction Phase Health & Safety Plan with Covid-19 clauses
- Young Persons Risk Assessment with additional Covid-19 clauses
- Site rules with Covid-19 instructions
- Site Induction with Covid-19 instructions
The software does the compliance thinking for you. It matches up-to-the-minute, industry-standard documents (over 150 Risk Assessments, 130 COSHH Assessments, 70 Toolbox Talks, 30 Management documents and three Method Statement templates) to the job! Tell the software what you’re building and the software will tell you what you need to do – filling out much of the paperwork for you.
If you don’t have Health & Safety Xpert 2020 and want more information, give us a call on 0117 916 7898. You can also book a short online demonstration here – we’ve added lots more slots. If you want to discuss updating your HBXL software then call 0117 916 7892.