UK in Lockdown – what is the best course of action for those working in the construction sector?

Covid-19 News | Latest News | Property & Construction
Emma Swann

Following the lockdown placed on the UK to help tackle the Covid-19 crisis, people have been told to work from home, unless it is vital they go into work.

This has caused some confusion amongst business owners and employees, none more so than in the construction sector.

To help shed some light on the issue, BLM caught up with legal experts from Forbes Solicitors who say closing construction sites could protect employers just as much as workers.

Emma Swan, head of commercial employment law at Forbes Solicitors, explains:
“Governments shutting down non-critical construction sites could help protect workers just as much as it does employers. Government coronavirus guidance is for workers to keep at least 2 metres apart. This is difficult to enforce and impractical on some sites. There’s also a risk that this guidance could end-up increasing site risks for workers as they try to keep the specified 2 metres.”

David Mayor, who is an associate in the insurance law team at Forbes Solicitors, adds: “The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015) are underpinned by the need to identify and control site hazards, avoiding or reducing risk where possible. It will be difficult for Government guidance to be wholly observed and if it ends-up actually increasing risk, employees could reasonably claim a breach of the Regulations or other health and safety legislation. This is a needless and avoidable scenario for both employers and workers.”

Emma concludes: “More in-depth health and safety assessments of critical construction sites, such as where hospitals are being built, will need to be undertaken and special measures put in place to manage the 2 metre distancing rule on-site. These sites should be the exceptions.

“There’s simply not enough time to apply this approach to all projects and it’d be safer for everyone if non-critical sites temporarily close. There’s government support in place to help protect people against loss of earnings and protect companies against business interruption.”

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