5 safety measures construction and manufacturing industries must consider when returning to work

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Josie Malone covid-19, Built Environment, Manufacturing...

The long-awaited first phase to ease the UK out of the current lockdown has begun as the Government announces construction workers and manufacturers can return to work so long as they follow social distancing and implement extra safety measures within the workplace due to COVID-19.

Before they can even consider employees returning to work, many of these businesses face a huge amount of pressure and responsibility to ensure their workplace is safely set up and ‘COVID-19 Secure’.

TXM Recruit has been working closely with a number of clients who have continued to operate during the lockdown period, ensuring contractors are able to work within a safe environment. Following this, the team have put together five safety measures you can implement within your construction or manufacturing worksite that will help your employees feel reassured in their return to work.

1. Employ a dedicated Social Distancing Marshal or Supervisor
If you have multiple construction or manufacturing worksites, you need to ensure your workforce follows social distancing within two metres. Businesses are now required to complete a COVID-19 risk assessment to ensure the right health and safety measures are implemented. Hiring or allocating a dedicated employee as your Social Distancing Marshal / Supervisor will ensure your workforce follows your additional health and safety regulations and processes. Dedicated solely on the safety of your workers, a Social Distancing Marshal will eliminate any potential risks or fines your business could incur during these unusual times.

2. Create safety zones within your worksite
Moving around onsite freely is no longer an option for workers within construction and manufacturing. By allocating workstations within your worksite will help employees know where they can work safely. Placing barriers and screens between workspaces and outlining visible ground markings for ‘safe zone’ walkways will ensure workers follow your new social distancing policies. Consider your communal areas and provide space for workers to take their breaks in line with social distancing.

3. Split shift patterns and rotas to avoid crowds
Review work rotas and split shifts to give your employees the space they need to work in without the worry of a crowded working environment. It’s also worth thinking about the tools and equipment needed by these workers and how you can avoid cross-contamination of multiple individuals using the same tools. Implementing static workstations and assigning the same crew of workers within these safety zones will reduce the risk of transmission.

4. PPE and Hygiene must always be considered  
Luckily, many construction workers and manufacturers are used to wearing PPE and safety gear to carry out their usual work duties. Dependant on the outcome of your risk assessment, you’ll be able to understand what PPE is required for your workforce. For example, if your employees are working within an enclosed space, face coverings may be needed. It’s important to encourage your workers follow good hygiene and do not share any PPE or safety gear if this is a requirement. 

Provide extra hygiene stations such as hand wash or hand sanitiser within your workstations and commonly used entry and exit points onsite. It’s also worth noting extra cleaning will need to be carried out within the workplace as well as sanitising all hand tools and machinery in-between and after use.

5. Communication doesn’t need to be face-to-face
During lockdown we’ve learnt that there’s lots of alternative ways to communicate effectively with employees which doesn’t involve face-to-face meetings. Effective communication is paramount, especially at a time where workers may be feeling anxious about returning to work or concerned about their welfare. If you’re looking to provide your workers with a business update or wishing to brief your crew, schedule video calls for all to join using video conferencing tools such as Zoom or Skype.

Provide your workforce with alternative communication methods by setting up Whatsapp groups and encourage workers to use their phones to communicate to colleagues who may be working within a different workstation.

These are just a few safety measures you can implement immediately within your worksites however if you do require further guidance, please refer to GOV.UK.

The team at TXM Recruit hope you and your workers return to work safely. If you’d like to understand more on how TXM Recruit can support your business whether that’s through hiring a Social Distancing Marshall / Supervisor or recruiting site personnel to help you get back on track, please do get in contact.