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Scottish Construction Firms Gradually Return to Sites

ByDave Stopher

Jun 7, 2020

First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed that construction sites can start to resume operations. Whilst workers on these sites are now allowed to return to work, this will be a gradual process, in which they will have to follow social distancing whilst also practicing hand hygiene.

This is a major step in helping to start up the construction industry after the impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic – Homes for Scotland’s Nicola Barclay stating: “To get confirmation that home builders can now commence the reopening of their sites is great news that hasn’t come a moment too soon given the robust safety plans that the industry has developed and put in place.”

“With pent-up housing demand having increased with every day that has passed, we look forward to finishing off the many homes that are already largely complete and that families are desperate to move into as well as starting to get the new homes that are so desperately needed out of the ground.”

Allowing construction firms to return is phase two of the Scottish Government’s six-phase plan in restarting the Scottish construction industry. This six-phase plan is set to undergo the following steps:

  • Phase 0 – The planning stage
  • Phase 1 – Pre-start preparation of sites
  • Phase 2 – a “Soft start” (carrying out work where physical distancing can be effectively practised)
  • Phase 3 – a “Steady state” (again, carrying out work where physical distancing can be effectively practised)
  • Phase 4 – a “Steady state” (carrying out work where physical distancing can be effectively practiced or where PPE can be used)
  • Phase 5 – Increasing density (/productivity)

Within this plan the Scottish Government notes that whilst restrictions may ease, this does not mean construction can return to the normal practices that operated prior to the pandemic, and that physical distancing, hand hygiene and  “other critical behaviours” are essential during this recovery period.

The health and safety will remain a top priority for workers throughout the construction industry now returning to sites.

Ms Sturgeon has claimed that this new step in a significant one for the construction industry in Scotland, however, has remarked there is still some way to go before construction can fully return to normal operations.

The Scottish First Minister claims that “Moving to the next step of the industry plan will now allow workers to return to construction sites gradually while using measures such as physical distancing and hand hygiene to ensure that they can do so safely”

“I’m very grateful to the sector and to trade unions for the very responsible approach that they have taken during an incredibly different time.”

Reflecting on the situation in London and the Home Counties, Chris Griggs of Griggs Homes commented:

“Our site teams have shown the upmost professionalism throughout these challenging times. All of our staff, suppliers and sub-contractors have been extremely careful to ensure they are following the latest government guidelines. We will continue to place a strong emphasis on safety as we adjust to a new ‘normal’ and a new way of working. We are making fantastic progress across all of our bespoke client projects and our development sites.”