First Minister permits site preparation work from tomorrow

Scotland’s construction sector can begin site preparation work from Friday after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon began a phased reopening of the lockdown restrictions.

First Minister permits site preparation work from tomorrow

Confirming the Scottish Government’s plan for outdoor workplaces to resume as part of the first phase out of lockdown, Ms Sturgeon said: “From tomorrow, the construction sector will be able to restart site preparation, that’s the first phase of its restart plan. It will be required to consult with further with government before moving on to the second stage of that plan.”

Scotland’s route map out of the current lockdown restrictions, which was unveiled last week, outlined that physical distancing measures will remain in place with staggered start times and flexible working encouraged.

The industry-agreed six-step phased model for the return of the construction sector is:

  • Phase 0: Planning
  • Phase 1: COVID-19 Pre-start Site prep
  • Phase 2: ‘Soft start’ to site works (only where physical distancing can be maintained)
  • Phase 3: Steady state operation (only where physical distancing can be maintained)
  • Phase 4: Steady state operation (where physical distancing can be maintained and/or with PPE use)
  • Phase 5: Increasing density/productivity with experience

In its newly updated COVID-19: construction sector guidance, the Scottish Government said: “Progress through these stages will be evidence-led and dependent on all parties working in genuine partnership. As an initial stage we are planning for the construction sector to implement the first two phases in its restart plan from 29 May, with a decision to move to ‘phase 2’ of the construction sector’s plan only after consulting with government to ensure it is safe to do so and in line with public health advice.

“Easing restrictions will not mean returning to how things were before the virus. Physical distancing, hand hygiene, and other critical behaviours will be essential in each area to ensure public and workforce confidence.

“We continue to work with business and employee representatives, seeking to learn from successful working practices on essential sites, looking for industry to develop innovative processes to support new ways of working, and also learning from examples from around the world.  We are working closely with Health Protection Scotland to ensure that the health and wellbeing of individuals continues to be our priority as we work together on the managed restart of the sector.”

The Scottish Government added that its joint statement with Police Scotland, Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and local authorities provides further details on safe workplaces.

This guidance will be updated and reviewed as required in consultation with the sector’s employers and unions.

Suggestions for how to improve the guidance can be made to the Construction Policy Team at  

“It is for individual businesses in conjunction with trade union or workforce representatives to decide how best to successfully adopt and adapt guidance for their individual circumstances,” the government added.

Welcoming the publication of updated guidance for the construction sector, minister for local government, planning and housing, Kevin Stewart, said: “With the gradual easing of lockdown it is vitally important that we publish updated guidance for the construction sector to help it restart safely and recover from the damaging impact of COVID-19.

“The focus of the Scottish Government remains on tackling the virus, protecting public health and saving lives, but we are also acutely aware of the need to support vital sectors of the economy, such as construction, as they begin to recover.

“In recent weeks we have worked tirelessly with representative bodies, employers and trade unions from the construction sector to prepare guidance that is clear and realistic and I am pleased that businesses can now begin planning and preparing sites for restart. Future progress will clearly depend on our ability to continue to control COVID-19 transmission rates.

“This guidance also emphasises the importance of ongoing risk assessment with full input from trade union or workforce representatives and to keep all risk mitigation measures under regular review so that workplaces continue to feel, and be, safe.

“In parallel to the preparation of this guidance, Construction Scotland has published Site Operating Guidance and a Restart Model for the industry and I am very grateful to them for the significant work that has gone into producing those documents.

“The measured approach laid out in this guidance and the construction sector’s own restart plan provide a clear pathway to a phased restart of construction work in coming weeks and months.”

  • Read all of our articles relating to COVID-19 here.
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