The British Safety Council says non-essential construction must end to keep workers and public safe during the coronavirus outbreak.
Mixed messages from various government ministers has led to confusion as to whether construction work is still permitted – particularly in London when many builders travel to site on packed public transport.
Last night the Prime Minister gave an instruction that everyone should stay at home for all but the most essential reasons. This morning Michael Gove appeared on Good Morning Britain and said all major construction work should go ahead but jobs carried out at close quarters in someone’s home would not be appropriate. A tweet from the Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said: “If you are working on site, you can continue to do so. But follow Public Health England guidance on social distancing.”
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
— Robert Jenrick (@RobertJenrick) March 23, 2020
The building trades have raised concerns whether social distancing is actually possible while on site.
The Chair of the British Safety Council, Lawrence Waterman, has commented:
“The construction sector needs clarity from the government – on most sites social distancing will be impossible or simply unsafe. All non-essential construction should end now so that construction workers can go home and stay home like everyone else.
“Some building work will be deemed essential – for example, building work that will improve access to hospitals or road access which will help tackle the virus. It is also the case that half-built buildings need to be made safe and workers should prioritise work that can safely suspend construction for as long as necessary.
“Many thousands of construction workers are self-employed and don’t get paid if they don’t go to work. The government and developers need to work together to ensure that workers are protected when their building sites are shut down. We can’t have scenes like this morning when the country is told to stay at home, but the tubes are crammed full of people setting off to work on a building site.”