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Anticipating non-essential site closures: time to prepare

24 March 2020

A note from RIBA Executive Director Professional Services, Adrian Dobson…

Many RIBA members and other businesses in the construction industry are currently relying on most construction sites remaining open, but it has become clear that this may not be tenable if we are to achieve the levels of social distancing that the Government’s scientific and medical advisers now say is required.

Although the current Government position is that construction should continue as long as it can be done safely and in accordance with Public Health England guidance, it is now apparent that today and over the next few days, construction sites and the suppliers that provide materials and products to them are going to close. Many sites have already shut down

Critical work will need to continue, including for example:

  • Work in the health sector, particularly when it is in response to immediate health needs;
  • Urgent repair and maintenance callouts where loss of water, power or other dangers to householders or the public are likely to be present;
  • Vital national infrastructure
  • Fire safety work

The Construction Leadership Council has produced a new set of Site Operating Procedures (SOP) to guide design and construction teams during this complicated time.

Critical construction work that does take place should comply with all aspects of the Construction Leadership Council SOP guidance, including for social distancing of the workforce traveling to and from site, use of welfare facilities and carrying out the works.

Abrupt closures to non-essential sites may cause extreme hardship to individual workers, hinder essential services and the maintenance of key infrastructure, it is therefore essential that design and construction teams begin to prepare.

We have a duty to ensure site work that ceases is closed down in a safe, timely and managed way, and construction sites left in a state that is safe and secure.

For specific concerns about site closures, please email: info@riba.org.

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