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Industry urged to redouble site safety efforts

The Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) has warned against safety complacency on construction sites during the new lockdown period.

BESA congratulated the sector on its efforts so far to keep everyone safe, but stressed the industry was now under even more intense public scrutiny and could not afford to relax.

“It will just take one or two bad sites to spoil things for everyone and put the government under pressure to lock the sector down,” said the Association’s chief executive David Frise. “It is vital that employers and workers act responsibly including when they are travelling to and from sites.

“The safety measures that are already in place should be reviewed and strengthened where necessary,” he told the latest BESA webinar; adding that the Construction Leadership Council had updated its Site Operating Procedures in light of the new lockdown.

BESA has also been working with the Construction Industry Coronavirus (CICV) Forum to create a new face mask campaign that will further improve site safety. The bodies have launched an animation and downloadable infographic to remind workers of the importance of following health & safety rules and using an appropriate face covering in the right way.

Headlined Mask for Task: Cover for Covid, the initiative emphasises that workers should wear the appropriate respirator or mask for the specific job in hand and that a face covering of suitable material should be worn when moving around site.

It also gives specific instructions on how to – and how not to – wear face coverings as well as instructions for taking care of personal protective equipment, such as storing masks in a sealable bag when not in use.

The material was developed by Rebecca Crosland, BESA’s Head of Health and Safety and chair of the Forum’s Health and Safety sub-group, in partnership with Iain McIlwee, chief executive of the Finishes and Interiors Sector, and Iain Mason, director of membership and communications at SELECT and chair of the Forum’s Communications sub-group.

“Since the CICV Forum was established, BESA has played a key role in creating engaging animations and infographics that have proved effective tools and helped deliver essential messaging to an extremely wide audience,” said Ms Crosland.

“The new animation is designed to be shared on social media and the poster can be downloaded free of charge from the Forum website.  One of the best ways to stay safe is to use masks correctly. This new information is easy to follow and will help operatives protect themselves and their colleagues, customers, friends and family.”

The Forum has also reissued its suite of guidance that outlines safety during domestic projects, guidance on returning to work safely, the importance of physical distancing outside work and giving contractors space to carry out essential work.

“With essential construction work being allowed to continue during lockdown, it is incumbent on everyone working in the sector to ensure that they are operating safely, whatever their capacity,” added Ms Crosland. “It is vital, that risk assessments are completed, and the site operating procedures adhered to.

“That is why we are also stepping up our full range of social media messaging about travel, social distancing and domestic work to ensure everyone is clear about exactly what behaviours are required at all times.”

The Forum was set up in March 2020 and has drawn on the collective expertise of the trade associations, private companies and professional bodies, who make up its membership, to maintain a steady supply of information and practical advice to the sector throughout the pandemic.

Watch the animation here and download the infographic here.

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