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HSE announce updated construction guidelines

HSE has updated its health and safety guidelines for construction sites safe following the Coronavirus outbreak. The latest update includes all the information you need on cleaning & hygiene, PPE, fit testing and RPE, social distancing and more.

There is also a step-by-step risk assessment guide which you may find extremely helpful if you’re struggling with what you need to incorporate and take into consideration for your site or business.

Cleaning & Hygiene

HSE recommend that you use signs and posters to help your workers to practice good handwashing technique and to remind them to cough/sneeze into an arm and avoid touching their faces.

Handwashing

  • provide handwashing facilities with running water, soap and paper towels
  • provide hand sanitiser at locations in addition to washrooms
  • provide hand sanitiser nearby for people getting in and out of vehicles or handling deliveries, if they are unable to wash their hands

It is also important to make sure that surfaces remain clean at all times, increasing the level and frequency of cleaning and making sure you clean surfaces that may not normally be cleaned – such as a kettle.

Clean equipment frequently

  • Set clear guidance for the use and cleaning of toilets, showers and changing facilities to make sure they are kept clean and social distancing is achieved as much as possible
  • Clean work areas and equipment between uses
  • Frequently clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are touched regularly
  • If equipment like tools or vehicles are shared then clean them after each use

Find out more about cleaning your workplace to reduce risk from coronavirus (COVID-19).

PPE

Personal protective equipment (PPE) protects the user against health or safety risks at work. It includes different types of respiratory protective equipment (RPE), such as respirators.

Face coverings are not the same as PPE.  A face covering does not protect people from work-related hazardous substances however, they may be marginally beneficial as a precautionary measure against coronavirus – find out more.

PPE for protection against coronavirus usually only necessary when an individual is carrying out certain healthcare activities and so would be less need for people working within a construction environment and there it is recommended to continue using the protective equipment provided and used before the outbreak started.

Space Management:

Spacing the distance between people by 2 meters is an effective way to reduce the spreading of the virus and therefore it is incredibly important that you do what you can to make sure that the correct spacing is being used when working.

Managing your space effectively will enable you to get as many people as it’s safe to do so in a building or on-site and still keep the risk of spreading the virus down.

Entrances and exits

Stagger arrival and departure times so that people do not use entry and exit points at the same time.

Provide handwashing facilities so people can wash their hands when they get into and leave work (provide hand sanitiser where this is not possible).

Social distancing

Keep work areas 2 metres apart and allocate one person only to each work area. If this is not possible, then keep the number of people in each work area as low as possible.

To help workers to social distance you can:

  • use floor tape or paint to mark work areas
  • provide signage to remind people to keep a 2 m distance
  • use screens to create a physical barrier between people
  • have people working side-by-side rather than face-to-face
  • limit movement of people
    • rotating between jobs and equipment
    • using lifts and work vehicles
    • in high-traffic areas like corridors, turnstiles and walkways
    • allow only essential trips within buildings and between sites

For more detail on the guidelines visit HSE’s website and find out more about social distancing in the workplace.

There is also additional information available from the Scottish government’s coronavirus guidance for employers in Scotland and from the Welsh government’s guidance on maintaining physical distance in the workplace.

Breaks and canteens

Stagger break times so that people are not using break rooms, canteens or rest areas at the same time and make sure that if more than one person is using the canteen or rest area that they are remaining 2 meters apart and wipe down surfaces once they are finished.

Using outside areas for breaks and encouraging staff to stay on-site during working hours will also help to reduce the risk of spreading in the workplace and then into general circulation by visiting shops etc.

Providing packaged meals could help to avoid fully opening canteens. Reconfigure seating and tables in welfare areas to maintain spacing and reduce face to face interactions.

For more information as well as a free step by step risk assessment guide, visit the HSEs website by clicking here.