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Extended working hours in the construction industry

As the construction industry battles to keep projects moving ahead and on schedule during the ‘new normal’, it was recently announced that construction sites in England will be allowed to extend working hours until 9pm in residential areas, and beyond on other sites, as part of the government’s plan to reopen the housing market.

Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick, said “Varied start and finish times will make it easier for sites to observe social distancing, take the pressure off public transport, like the tube in London, and keep Britain building.”

This allows building sites to apply for this extension with immediate effect and will help the industry catch up on work missed during weeks in the coronavirus lockdown. There have also been suggestions that the government is considering some jobs switching to 24 hour working to help workers follow social distancing protocols.

But how can we keep safe on site?

By adopting longer working hours, it does mean the requirement for social distancing will be met as the introduction of split shifts will mean far fewer staff on site at any given time. The government have also provided further guidance for working on site such as:

  1. As far as possible, where people are split into teams or shift groups, fixing these teams or shift groups so that where contact is unavoidable, this happens between the same people.
  2. Identifying areas where people have to directly pass things to each other, such as shared tools, materials or job instructions, and find ways to remove direct contact, for example by using drop-off points or transfer zones.
  3. For those workers who are required to travel and stay away from home in onsite accommodation, creating fixed groups of workers so that where contact is unavoidable, this happens between the same people.
  4. Minimising worker congregation at bottlenecks such as timeclocks, entrances and exits and maintaining social distancing during shift handovers.

(Source: Gov.uk)

Social distancing is a key public health measure introduced by Public Health England to reduce the spread of infection. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said: “Most employers are going to great lengths to ensure social distancing wherever possible. The HSE, CBI and TUC wish to publicly support these efforts.”

How are you finding the new social distancing measures on site? Do you think the extension in working hours will help keep our workforces safe? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

McGinley CEP Ltd is a company registered in England and Wales. Registered number: 7216155. Registered office: 56 Clarendon Road, Watford, Hertfordshire, WD17 1DB.

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