The latest update on Furlough and Site Safety for those still going to work in the Construction Industry
As a construction recruitment agency with a number of candidates still having to work on site, it is important to us that their safety is a priority. Here we have looked into the latest guidelines.
UK Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme was put in place by the Government in order to protect businesses and their employees during this unprecedented downturn brought on by the Coronavirus.
Subject to certain conditions, any employee can be furloughed as long as they were on the PAYE on 19 March 2020 (Previously this date was 28 February 2020).
The online portal for employers to apply for this scheme on behalf of their employees, opened on the HMRC website on Monday 20th April. Any business may apply, and the construction industry is no exception.
Below we outline a few updated key points regarding the Furlough scheme, that weren’t covered in our last article, as well as some important site safety procedures to bear in mind for those that haven’t been furloughed.
“The health and safety requirements of any construction activity must also 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” -Site Operating Procedures from the Construction Leadership Council
As it stands, as an employee you can accrue holiday as normal during the time that you are furloughed and also take holiday while on furlough. Your employer does however have the right to ask you to take your holiday while on furlough, so that when things return to normal, the full workforce is back, rather than people taking their holiday then.
If you do decide to take holiday during the time that you are furloughed, you must receive normal pay from your employer. This means that they will have to top up the 80% that the government are giving them.
While most businesses will be placing their staff on furlough in order to avoid any redundancies, there may be unavoidable circumstances in which they happen. Should that be the case, any redundancy must be in line with normal redundancy procedures. You should expect to receive your contracted notice pay and a redundancy package for those who have worked over 2 years for that employer.
Whilst you cannot work for your employer, including sending emails from your work email account, or doing anything that will generate income or services for that business, you are able to do volunteer work elsewhere and/or sign up to training schemes.
If however, you are still expected on a construction site, there are a number of health and safety guidelines which should be adhered to at all times.
Anyone who meets one of the following criteria should not come to site:
· Has a high temperature or a new persistent cough - follow the guidance on self-isolation
· Is a vulnerable person (by virtue of their age, underlying health condition, clinical condition or are pregnant)
· Is living with someone in self-isolation or a vulnerable person.
If Someone Falls ill
If a worker develops a high temperature or a persistent cough while at work, they should:
· Return home immediately
· Avoid touching anything
· Cough or sneeze into a tissue and put it in a bin, or cough and sneeze into the crook of their elbow.
· Go into self isolation immediately
Site Access Points
· Stop all non-essential visitors
· Introduce staggered start and finish times to reduce congestion and contact at all times
· Monitor site access points to enable social distancing – you may need to change the number of access points, either increase to reduce congestion or decrease to enable monitoring
· Remove or disable entry systems that require skin contact e.g. fingerprint scanners
· Require all workers to wash or clean their hands before entering or leaving the site
· Allow plenty of space (two metres) between people waiting to enter site
· Regularly clean common contact surfaces in reception, office, access control and delivery areas e.g. scanners, turnstiles, screens, telephone handsets, desks, particularly during peak flow times
· Reduce the number of people in attendance at site inductions and consider holding them outdoors wherever possible
· Drivers should remain in their vehicles if the load will allow it and must wash or clean their hands before unloading goods and materials.
· Restrict the number of people using toilet facilities at any one time e.g. use a welfare attendant
· Wash hands before and after using the facilities
· Enhance the cleaning regimes for toilet facilities particularly door handles, locks and the toilet flush
· Portable toilets should be avoided wherever possible, but where in use these should be cleaned and emptied more frequently
· Provide suitable and sufficient rubbish bins for hand towels with regular removal and disposal.
Canteens and Eating Arrangements
With cafés and restaurants having been closed across the UK, canteens cannot operate as normal.
Whilst there is a requirement for construction sites to provide a means of heating food and making hot drinks, these are exceptional circumstances and where it is not possible to introduce a means of keeping equipment clean between use, kettles, microwaves etc. must be removed from use.
The workforce should also be required to stay on site once they have entered it and not use local shops.
· Dedicated eating areas should be identified on site to reduce food waste and contamination
· Break times should be staggered to reduce congestion and contact at all times
· Hand cleaning facilities or hand sanitiser should be available at the entrance of any room where people eat and should be used by workers when entering and leaving the area
· The workforce should be asked to bring pre-prepared meals and refillable drinking bottles from home
· Workers should sit 2 metres apart from each other whilst eating and avoid all contact
· Where catering is provided on site, it should provide pre-prepared and wrapped food only
· Payments should be taken by contactless card wherever possible
· Crockery, eating utensils, cups etc. should not be used
· Drinking water should be provided with enhanced cleaning measures of the tap mechanism introduced
· All areas used for eating must be thoroughly cleaned at the end of each break and shift, including chairs, door handles, vending machines and payment devices.
Avoiding Close Working
There will be situations where it is not possible or safe for workers to distance themselves from each other by 2 metres.
· Non-essential physical work that requires close contact between workers should not be carried out
· Work requiring skin to skin contact should not be carried out
· Plan all other work to minimise contact between workers
· Re-usable PPE should be thoroughly cleaned after use and not shared between workers
· Single use PPE should be disposed of so that it cannot be reused
· Stairs should be used in preference to lifts or hoists
· Where lifts or hoists must be used - Lower their capacity to reduce congestion and contact at all times
PLEASE KEEP YOUR DISTANCE AND STAY SAFE