Site Operating Procedures Under Covid-19: What You Need to Know
Apr 21, 2020
Last week, a third iteration of the Site Operating Procedures (also known as SOP) was released and it now includes risk management procedures.
SOP has been introduced to help construction workers prevent the spread of Covid-19 on building sites and enable them to continue working. The regulations include an emphasis on good personal hygiene standards whilst working on site and applying the 2 metre social distancing rules wherever possible.
This new version comes after the 2nd version of the Site Operating Procedures was dismissed for being ‘too far’ by indicating that work should be stopped if social distancing rules could not be adhered to. In this more recent published copy of SOP, a ‘risk assessment table’ has been included to help you and your teams on-site make informed decisions about whether to continue with the work or whether you need to make alternative arrangements for the task to be carried out.
“If you are not able to work whilst maintaining a two metre distance, you should consider whether the activity should continue and, if so, risk assess it using the hierarchy of controls below and against any sector-specific guidance.” – An excerpt from version 3 of Site Operating Procedures.
Working on a Building Site During Covid-19
Things you need to know include:
- Workers should not attend work if they are feeling unwell in any capacity and should be advised to isolate for at least 7 days
- If a task can be done by one person, arrange it so that they can, to ensure they can maintain a 2-metre distance from others on-site
- Reduce interaction between workers by introducing the use of mechanical aids
- Avoid skin to skin contact wherever possible
- Avoid using lifts and hoists where possible and instead use the stairs (to avoid multiple people touching the same potentially contaminated areas
- All areas should be well ventilated, especially for any necessary meetings
When it comes to site meetings, staff are advised to maintain a 2 metre distance from each other. Try to carry out meetings in open spaces and only when a meeting is absolutely necessary.
In cases where it is unavoidable for workers to be 2 metres apart or for tasks which require multiple people, there are guidelines for establishing how to organise the tasks. Once you have decided whether the task is absolutely necessary, you must plan ahead by following these steps:
- All staff must wash their hands before and after using any equipment
- Minimise the number of people needed for any given task and minimise the time they are in contact with one another
- Regularly clean common touch points such as handles etc
- Keep small teams of workers that need to work together, isolated from the rest of the workforce to minimise contact with one another on site
- Where close contact or ‘face-to-face’ working is unavoidable, keep this to 15 minutes or less
- Introduce an enhanced authorisation procedure for working close together so that each situation is properly assessed, and permission can be granted by site managers
- Introduce a supervisor to each close working situation to ensure compliance
When it comes to wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), it is strongly advised that re-usable PPE (or RPE) need not be used where the 2 metre rules apply.
Any Re-useable PPE (RPE) should be cleaned thoroughly after use and should NOT be shared between workers. Single use PPE must be disposed of correctly and not re-used. In cases where workers are in close proximity to identified Covid-19 patients such as in a health care environment, additional PPE should be worn to help prevent spread of the virus.
A full copy of the Site Operating Procedures, version 3, can be downloaded here: https://www.constructionleadershipcouncil.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Site-Operating-Procedures-Version-3.pdf.