Taylor Wimpey led the way for Britain’s leading house builders to begin mothballing sites across the country, which set the tone for contractors to begin leaving sites on health and safety grounds. However, some specialist contractors are concerned that they are having to put staff at risk in order to fulfil contractural obligations.
Barratt and Bovis followed the Taylor Wimpey example while HS2 and Crossrail began to shut down, as did many leading contractors including Kier, ISG, Mace and Multiplex. Action is being taken to make sites safe and secure for an inevitable nation-wide shutdown for all but essential services.
Leading specialist Carey’s said it was starting to close down its site operations. It said in a statement: “This is the right and responsible action to take and we see it as our civic duty to take this action now.”
But in some cases contractural obligations are requiring subcontractors to continue to work. In London, specialists’ concern for staff health and safety has seen some advise employees not to use public transport and recommend driving or using Uber to travel to and from working sites.
The supply chain is also having to keep back office teams active in order to support frontline construction work, and only those who can do their work remote are able to work from home. On site workers that are billeted in hotels and hostels are now starting see their lodgings close, so many will have to return home and be unable to work.
Materials suppliers that are operating have adopted coronavirus protocols to maintain social distancing. In some cases deliveries that are made are not having to be signed for. But in some areas deliveries are just not arriving and hindering what progress is taking place on site.
Earlier this week the Construction Leadership Council published COVID-19 Site Operating Procedures for those still working. The government continues to say construction work can continue and appears reluctant to impose a total lockdown.