April 5, 2020

Safe working environments in construction are paramount says NFB as COVID-19 lockdown begins

The National Federation of Builders has welcomed the government’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, recognising that the situation can only be improved by taking a long term approach.

Richard Beresford, chief executive of the NFB, commented: “We welcome the Prime Minister’s statement as the safety of the public is of utmost importance. Our members have sent office workers home but there is a desire from industry to keep working on site. We are therefore analysing the varied types of working environments, for example, open-air, empty buildings, isolated homes and shared spaces so that we can continue to give tailored advice and guidance to members.  

“The COVID-19 pandemic is going to go on for months, therefore we must ensure that industry has the necessary tools and information available to continue operating in the safest way possible.”

In a televised address, the Prime Minister announced a series of strict measures aimed at limiting the spread of the COVID-19 virus. He announced that people must now stay home or risk facing fines.

They will only be allowed to leave their home for the following purposes:

  • shopping for basic necessities, as infrequently as possible;
  • one form of exercise a day – for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of their household;
  • any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person;
  • and travelling to and from work, but only where this is absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home.

The Prime Minister said: “No Prime Minister wants to enact measures like this. I know the damage that this disruption is doing and will do to people’s lives, to their businesses and to their jobs.  

“But at present there are just no easy options. The way ahead is hard, and it is still true that many lives will sadly be lost.”

Robert Jenrick, housing secretary, provided some clarity and confirmed that workers who can work from home should do so, and people working on sites may continue to do so, but should follow Public Health England guidance on social distancing.

Another government official, Michael Gove, has also shed some light on the situation. He reaffirmed Mr Jenrick’s statement and said that in line with other countries, construction work and essential manufacturing will continue in the UK.