Forum issues new guidance and urges caution over easing of restrictions

As Scotland moves towards further easing of restrictions, the CICV Forum has issued more timely guidance and sounded a cautionary note, urging the sector to keep its focus on health and safety to protect colleagues, customers and families.

The unique collaboration says the sector is “not out of the woods yet” and, with COVID-19 still a very real threat, insists each worker has a vitally important role to play in continuing to maintain good hygiene.

With Scotland set to follow England with its own so-called “Freedom Day” on August 9, the Forum has stressed that companies should continue to adhere to standard operating procedures (SOP) to ensure maximum focus on health and safety.

Rebecca Crosland, Chair of the Forum’s Health and Safety group, and Head of Health & Safety at the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA), said: “The past 15 months have been an extremely difficult period for everyone, and we have only come this far by pulling together and following the rules.

“This spirit of collaboration and cooperation must now continue over the coming weeks as we prepare for restrictions to be eased further, both in our professional and personal lives.

“Make no mistake – COVID-19 is still a very real threat and we are not out of the woods yet. Vaccinations can only help so much and it is vital that the sector continues to be careful when it comes to health and safety.

“We will still have one-metre distancing and businesses should continue to follow the SOP and domestic guidance issued by CICV Forum until at least 9 August when we will be among those meeting with Scottish Government to discuss what action will be taken next.

“Everyone in the sector has done well and played their part over the course of the pandemic and we shouldn’t relax too soon.”

To help further, the Forum has produced a secure site risk assessment template that can be downloaded to help contractors plan COVID-safe working practices.

It has also produced a close working checklist to help construction professionals plan for projects that involve close contact in enclosed conditions.

Rebecca added: “These two new pieces of guidance will help operatives carry out COVID-19 risk assessments for a range of projects, including where close working is required, and help them consider the safest way for those tasks to continue.

“They also make it clear that, during such activities, appropriate mitigation methods should be put into place including lateral flow testing, increased hand washing and environmental cleaning, face covering, adequate ventilation and keeping any close activity as brief as possible.”

The guidance follows a range of other information which is still available on the Forum site, including advice on working from home, preparing for HSE spot checks and an overview of the current professional indemnity insurance market.

Fiona Hodgson, CEO of SNIPEF, another leading member of the Forum, said: “Once again, we are keen to do all we can to ensure the sector follows correct protocols to stay safe at this crucial time, and this new guidance will help provide clarity and essential advice.

“During the pandemic, construction has risen to the challenge, protecting staff and providing the bedrock of the UK economy throughout the year. However, it is vital that we continue to protect against the very real threat that remains.

“Our message is clear – workers should still observe hygiene rules and keep health and safety procedures front of mind to protect themselves, their colleagues, their customers and their families.”

The CICV Forum is made up of 29 trade associations, professional services bodies and companies. Since its inception in March 2020, it has maintained a steady supply of information and practical advice to the sector as well as carrying out surveys, producing animations and posters, hosting webinars and speaking with government ministers.