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Uproar over new safe site operation procedure prompts rethink

A refreshed update of safe site operating procedures during the coronavirus outbreak has been pulled after an immediate outcry from construction firms.


The revised edition was withdrawn just hours after being published yesterday as firms branded it completely unworkable.

The Construction Leadership Council published the first set of rules introducing 2m social distancing during working last week.

But a revised version imposed a far stricter regime ruling out any working closer than 2m in any circumstances even with PPE.

This conflicted with government confirmation that construction sites should continue to operate during the current Coronavirus pandemic.

A scaffolding firm boss said: “We simply could not erect scaffold under these new guidelines.”

Another specialist said, “It’s strange to say, but under these guidelines even ICU doctors wearing full protection wouldn’t be allowed near patients. It’s clearly a totally unworkable approach for construction.

“If the right PPE can be supplied then intermittent close working should be allowed or else sites simply can’t function.”

Another boss said: “I read it over and over again hoping there must be some mistake. Sites would simply have to close.”

In Version 2 of the guidance published yesterday it read that where workers cannot distance themselves from each other by 2 metres then work should not be carried out The fresh update also explicitly states that workers in central London should avoid using the tube during peak times of 05:45 ‐ 7:30 and 16:00 ‐ 17:30.

The guidance also said groups of workers should be kept together to reduce the risk of passing infection across the full site workforce.This would mean maintaining the same crew and shift patterns.

Andy Mitchell, Co-Chair, Construction Leadership Council, said: “There has been significant feedback on the updated site operating procedures version 2. Whilst the feedback is reviewed the CLC has re-issued version 1, which is the document the industry should be complying with.”

The CLC is now working hard to produce a third version which clarifies Public Health England advice.

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