Following the Prime Ministers statement last night, we are receiving many communications requesting clarification on whether or not we should go to work.
The UK is under lockdown but it is our understanding there is a clear distinction between the new social lockdown and work. Where people can work from home, then they should. Contractors work on site so this is clearly impossible for their site teams.
Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government has provided the following advice for the housing, construction & building maintenance industries:
- If you can work from home, do so.
- If you are working on site, you can continue to do so. But follow Public Health England guidance on social distancing
- Outside of work, remember to #StayHomeSaveLives
To support safer site working Build UK has published advice on their website including this on site operating procedures.
Lockdowns around the globe
Most countries under lockdown have allowed people go to work where they cannot work from home, this information from the Guardian provides a pretty good overview of this globally.
On Sunday Italy’s Government announced the closure of all “non-essential production activities” across the country, after the death toll from the coronavirus outbreak rose by 793 to 4,825 on Saturday. All the non-essential production activities, including plants and offices, will close down. The UK may get to this stage but based on the latest advice we are not there yet.
If we go into full lockdown and works stop what would that mean?
As a contracting industry we provide support to many, if not to all, of the essential services. If we go into a full lockdown then some works would be required to facilitate those essential services listed by government (power generation being an obvious one). Many works though would not fall under this category and employers would likely need to resort to the furloughed worker support package available from HMRC to get through the next period with workforces intact.
If you work in licensed asbestos and works do need to be paused, then a cessation to an ASB5 is the preferred route. HSE are expected to be pragmatic given the unprecedented situation we are all facing. There is though a strong argument that a live enclosure should be worked to completion as otherwise it may present a risk to Health & Safety. New works would not commence however.
Back to normal
Nobody can predict when we can all get back to normal but one thing is clear, the UK is going to need us all to dig deep into our reserves and work doubly hard to get our industry and our country back on its feet. As a trade association we will continue to support our members in any way we can.