New health and safety underpinning guidance issued by CICV Forum
As Scotland’s building sector emerges from prolonged shutdown, the Construction Industry Coronavirus Forum (CICV Forum) has issued expanded health and safety guidance to help steer companies through the crisis and back to work.
The Forum, which was established specifically to deal with the effects of the closure on the industry, has played a critical role in providing clarity and transparency at a time when firms were facing their greatest existential threat in living memory.
As part of this work, the Forum has produced a comprehensive 42-page document, Safe Return and Restart, which is designed to underpin the Safe Operating Guidance released last week and produced in collaboration between Construction Scotland, Scottish Government and across industry.
Rebecca Crosland, Forum member and health and safety advisor at the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA), said: “Safe Return and Restart is an important contribution to the protection of the workforce and to help minimise the risk of further spread of infection.
“It is intended to provide detailed guidance to businesses of all sizes across all construction activity in line with the Scottish Government and Health Protection Scotland recommendations on the management of COVID-19.”
The expanded guidance covers a wide range of issues and proposes key control measures, including physical distancing, hygiene, travel and prevention of cross-contamination, as well as advising on H&S documentation, site management, deliveries, meetings and training.
Pete Walker, Forum member and director of health, safety and training at the British Constructional Steelwork Association, said: “Health and safety has never been more important and it is paramount that it is not compromised at this crucial time.
“The entire sector is relieved about planning to getting back to delayed projects, but sites must be aware that there can be no derogation to the usual health and safety legislative requirements. If an activity cannot be undertaken safely, it should not be undertaken.”
Craig Hartley, head of health, safety and improvement at UK-wide external property refurbishment provider Hugh LS McConnell Ltd, who was involved in the creation of the new document, added: “This is an important step forward in providing clear and concise guidance.
“The discussion until now has been whether it would be safe to return and, now that that decision has been taken, it is up to everyone in the sector to make sure that when work begins that we operate in accordance with the highest possible standards.
“The guidance, like all CICV Forum advice, is clear and easy to follow and I think it will be welcomed by responsible constructors who realise it provides a road map back to a viable and vibrant construction industry in Scotland.”
The Forum, made up of trade associations, professional services bodies, companies and individuals, stepped into the fray immediately in March with advice on how to operate safely while carrying out emergency or essential work.
Meanwhile, the Forum is following the success of its first webinar with a follow-up event this week, with plans in the pipeline for more informative discussions as the sector begins its long-awaited return to work.
The latest online webinar will take place on June 3 on the crucially important subjects of cashflow and contracts. It will feature three industry experts – Consultant Len Bunton, Ian Honeyman of the Scottish Building Federation and Gus Pearson of Fortis Contracts.
The inaugural webinar event saw Rebecca Crosland chair a lively discussion on health and safety.
At a time when the industry was gearing up to restart site activity, 136 people from across the sector signed up and took part – a particularly promising start.
Rebecca said: “This was a tremendous response and it clearly demonstrates that there is a hunger out there for clear, concise information which is particularly relevant to the strange times in which we find ourselves.
“I am sure this week’s webinar will be every bit as successful. Cashflow is a matter of primary importance to every company in the industry and the webinar looks as if it will be a welcome new way of imparting information widely and efficiently.”
The webinar series is the latest initiative from the Forum, which was established to deal with the effects of the compulsory shutdown in the industry, and is made up of trade associations, professional services bodies, companies and individuals.
Over the course of the COVID-19 crisis, it has been proactive in providing clarity and guidance for companies and individuals at a time when messages from governments were conflicting, confusing and contradictory.
Ian Honeyman said: “The Forum was set up to respond to the biggest crisis any of us have ever experienced and it has responded with professionalism, dedication and a clear and firm purpose.
“The webinars are another example of innovative thinking and the collective ability to respond positively to a crisis. There is a great lesson here for the whole sector as we try to rebuild our badly-damaged economy.”
The webinar on Wednesday 3 June at 10am is open to anyone. Register here.
- Read all of our articles relating to COVID-19 here.