Coronavirus & construction workers

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Construction crane and skyscraper in the sunlight.

Sometimes working from home is not possible. Certain jobs require people to travel to their place of work – for instance such as work in construction. If you cannot work from home then you can still travel to work, provided you are well and neither you nor any of your household are self-isolating. This is consistent with advice from the Chief Medical Officer.

Employers who have people onsite should ensure that employees are able to follow Public Health England guidelines including, where possible, maintaining a 2 metre distance from others, and washing their hands with soap and water often for at least 20 seconds (or using hand sanitiser gel if soap and water is not available).

Work carried out in people’s homes or businesses, for example by tradespeople carrying out repairs and maintenance, can continue, provided that the tradesperson is well and has no symptoms. Again, it will be important to ensure that Public Health England guidelines, including maintaining a 2 metre distance from any household or business occupants, are followed to ensure everyone’s safety.

No work should be carried out in any household which is isolating or where an individual is being shielded, unless it is to remedy a direct risk to the safety of the household. In such cases, Public Health England can provide advice to tradespeople and households. No work should be carried out by a tradesperson who has coronavirus symptoms, however mild.

Employers Liability Insurance

UK Employers’ Liability Insurance is designed to provide cover for an Insured’s legal liability for injury arising out of the Insured’s actions or failures to act where a duty of care is owed.

If an Employee suffers death, disease, illness or injury as a result of an employers negligence, a claim may be made against the employer. However, the employee in question (or their representative) will need to prove the employer breached that duty of care and that in turn led to said injury, disease or illness. For example, an employer failing to undertake adequate risk assessments or providing adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

If a legal liability were to be established, a UK Employers Liability policy is designed to respond in accordance with the terms, conditions and exceptions of the policy.

To protect your employees and your business consider the following points if employees have to work:

  1. With the requirement of 2m distancing, can employees travel in separate vehicles?
  2. Can you equip your vehicle with suitable hand cleaning products and sanitiser?
  3. Do employees have access to suitable rest areas where they can be 2m apart?
  4. Have you undertaken adequate risk assessments regarding social distancing?
  5. Have you provided and obtained signed acceptance of adequate/suitable PPE to employees?
  6. Consider how manual handling of large items can be undertaken to allow for social distancing?
  7. Do you have a suitable cleaning regime for shared company vehicles?
  8. Can tools and plant be cleaned adequately to protect employees?
  9. If employees use public transport can they travel outside of peak times?
  10. Is shift working possible to reduce employee numbers on site at any one time?
  11. Do you have suitable systems to dispose of used PPE?

Employers who have employees in offices or on site can find further information at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/guidance-for-employers-and-businesses-on-coronavirus-covid-19

Public Liability Insurance

UK Public Liability Insurance is designed to provide cover for an Insured’s legal liability for injury and/or damage to third party person/s and/or their property arising out of the Insured’s actions or failures to act where a duty of care is owed.

If a third party such as a customer or member of the public suffers death, disease, illness or injury as a result of a company’s negligence, they may look to bring a claim against the company. However, the person/s in question (or their representative) will need to prove the company breached that duty of care and that in turn led to said injury, disease or illness. For example, proving that they contracted the disease either whilst at a contract site under the company’s control or from the contractor working in their property.  

To protect your customers, members of the public and your business, consider the following:

  1. Restricting access to contract sites for customers. If access is vital, providing suitable PPE and communicating your safe distancing protocol to them at site induction or before the visit in writing
  2. Introduce a safe delivery area, where suppliers can deliver to the site whilst maintaining safe distancing, ensure delivery driver wears suitable PPE before unloading
  3. If handing a site back to a customer, ensuring a suitable cleaning regime is introduced to ensure site is clean and safe
  4. Ensure any waste PPE is safely stored away from public access and disposed of correctly.