Trade bodies call for caution as restrictions are lifted

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As businesses return to more regular working conditions following the lifting of lockdown restrictions, two engineering services bodies have stepped up their health & safety advice alongside a warning that the pandemic has still not relaxed its grip on the industry.

The Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) and ECA, the engineering and electrotechnical services body, have joined forces to produce updated free guidance notes for members, which draw on advice and the expertise of more than 30 health and safety practitioners from the construction and related sectors combined with the latest government guidelines to help employers keep their operatives and members of the public safe.

Although the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) has announced that its Site Operating Procedures (SOPs) will no longer be mandatory from July 19, BESA and the ECA are still urging caution.

BESA’s Head of Health and Safety Becky Crosland said: “Removing legal requirements does not mean it makes sense to immediately drop all the measures that have kept people safe over the past year. Common sense should prevail, and we expect most sites will choose to retain a number of voluntary measures including risk assessment, the wearing of face coverings and social distancing wherever possible.”

Paul Reeve, ECA’s Director or CSR and Public Affairs added: “Many in construction and wider services sectors are increasingly looking beyond 19 July to 16 August. The government announced that, from that date, double vaccination will begin to provide exemption from having to self-isolate.”

He added: “Many in the industry would like the 16 August date brought forward, even in the face of the practical difficulties. These range from how to encourage workers to achieve double vaccination, to the implications of government advice that workers should take a PCR test following a ‘Covid positive ping.”

The new publication ‘BESA/ECA Health and Safety Guidance Notes and Support for COVID 19’ will help employers navigate the next few months, according to the two bodies. It contains nine separate pieces of guidance designed to reduce the spread of the coronavirus in workplaces. It covers travel arrangements, working on-site and continues to reflect the latest version of the SOPs.

“Although we are seeing a gradual return to something like normal life, this actually increases the risk of another surge in infections in many workplaces,” said Crosland. “That is why it is more important than ever to have robust safety regimes in place and to be aware of the latest guidance on reducing exposure and the possibility of transmission.

“The industry has done an amazing job over the past 16 months to keep operating under the most difficult of conditions and still managing health and safety, but we absolutely must not relax now, or we risk another lockdown. That is why we are urging everyone across the sector to take advantage of this free guidance and of the expertise both associations can provide on a daily basis.”

The notes, which are downloadable for free from the BESA and ECA websites, provide advice on social distancing, hand washing/ sanitising, cleaning of all contactable surfaces and equipment etc. There is also guidance on how employers should plan activities to avoid unnecessary proximity (less than 2m) and carry out risk assessments.

To access the new free guidance click here and for a wide range of other Covid-19 resources go to: www.theBESA.com/covid19 and www.eca.co.uk/business-industry-support/coronavirus-back-to-work

FMJ and Grundon Waste Management have launched the 2021 waste and recycling management survey. It’s the fourth year for the annual appraisal of how FMs manage their waste and recycling activities and one which marks an unprecedented period of disruption to services due to the pandemic.

In order to understand how FMs have navigated their way through the last year and their plans for meeting stringent waste and recycling targets we’ve posed a series of questions – aided by the advice and experience of our editorial steering committee.

The results of the 2021 survey will be published in FMJ magazine and form the basis of a white paper co-written by FMJ and the experts at Grundon on how to approach waste and recycling strategies.

To take part in the survey click here.

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