Covid-19 Site Operating Procedures – a blessing or a burden for the beleaguered construction industry?
The Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, The Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP, has endorsed the Site Operating Procedures published by the Construction Leadership Council.
The second version was published on 2 April 2020, but hastily withdrawn after negative feedback on its recommendation that work should not be carried out unless workers could distance themselves from each other by two metres.
Like the first version, the third version does not state that a site should close if the two-metre rule cannot be observed. However, it provides additional guidance by setting out a “hierarchy of controls” that can be used to assess and reduce the risk associated with an activity where maintaining a two-metre distance is not possible. So, contrary to common belief, the UK Government is not saying ‘business as usual’ nor is it imposing a full lockdown. Instead, the industry must interpret the “hierarchy of controls”. Inevitably, this is leading to differing interpretations and potential disputes. The uncertainty is also generating a great deal of anxiety and confusion for workers and business owners. It is hoped that later versions of the Site Operating Procedures will address these shortcomings.
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