The CIF Safety and Health Subcommittee, mindful of the best available guidance, nationally and internationally, has developed a document entitled ‘Construction Sector C-19 Standard Operating Procedures’ which serves as a guide for the management of COVID-19 on a construction site for the duration of the pandemic. The actions set out in the document should be implemented in tandem with an amended Construction Stage Health and Safety Plan. The purpose of this document is to protect workers, their families and the community, whilst also recognising the need to protect livelihoods. The document has been endorsed by the Federation’s Executive Body for implementation.
Simply put, this is the most important document the CIF has distributed to this point in terms of preparing organisations to operate in the construction industry after restrictions are relaxed. The guidance document provides information on how you can protect your business, your workforce and your community.
The CIF says companies should use the document in a few very specific ways to ensure they and their clients collaborate productively in adopting new COVID-19 health guidelines such as social distancing. This is critical because if work cannot be carried out under these new circumstances, then work shouldn’t take place.
The CIF added that in most instances, compliance with these Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) involves changes to the schedule or delivery programme for construction projects. Therefore, the implementation of these SOP’s must have the support of the client and be implemented in accordance with the necessary contractual instructions from clients.
A contractor cannot operate unilaterally and each site and project is unique in terms of its design and the tasks associated with its construction. Clients must therefore accept that adapting and complying with the good practice illustrated in this SOP has productivity and cost implications. It is therefore recommended that before construction resumes on any site, a revised risk assessment is conducted by the client and contractor to ensure the project can recommence, revised delivery schedules are agreed, revised work programmes are agreed and/or any necessary contractual instructions are issued by the client which make it possible to comply with these SOP’s.
On certain projects where the client and the builder are the same entity (such as housing projects) it is still recommended that a revised risk assessment is carried out before implementing these SOP’s.
• This is not a legal document. Members should review this guidance to ensure they are following best practice relative to their specific sites to ensure safety.
• Conforming to HSE restrictions on sites remains the key criteria for any construction activity. If work cannot be done safely, it shouldn’t happen.
• Convincing relevant authorities that construction sites can reopen will be critical in the coming weeks. Members should be advised that this document is supported by an online induction module. Immediately on completion, workers will be issued with an electronic card confirming they have completed the programme. All workers returning to work must undergo this tutorial. It’s free, takes max 15 mins and is accessible on a smart phone, laptop, iPad etc.
• This SOP should be used by companies to review their safety plans.
• Most importantly, members should engage with their clients on the content of this SOP in the coming days and weeks so they have an understanding of the comprehensive steps members need to take to ensure safety.
• Member should engage with clients in this way to flag the expected costs and delays inherent in adhering to comprehensive guidelines relevant to each project. The document makes it clear that clients will need to be flexible and collaborative in allow companies the time and space to implement new ways of working.
• This document will be used by the Federation to support our efforts to convince the political system that the industry can comply with new safety guidelines. The period before the shutdown where there was widespread coverage of non-compliance by construction workers both on and off construction sites needs to be expunged.
Please note: Every employee returning to work after any relaxation of the COVID-19 restrictive measures must undergo the online induction module referred to above. This is a critical step in protecting your employees, your business and your communities. It also is key in convincing the public and the political system that a return to work is safe.
The online induction module referred to above will be finalised and available to members towards the end of this week. Members will be advised as soon as this is available.
Denise Maguire Editor of Irish Construction Industry Magazine