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Unite the Union Criticises SOP (V3)

30th April 2020

Unite the Union, which represents many of the UK’s construction workers, has openly criticised the now widely adopted Construction Leadership Council’s ‘Site Operating Procedures’.

The Procedures, which now sit at revision 3, after revision 2 was revoked shortly after publication, have evolved to allow an element of face-to-face contact by construction workers in some circumstances, where it is ‘essential’ and also to allow workers to travel together in the same vehicle. Both had previously not been allowed, as the Government’s 2m social distancing requirement was being applied.

Jerry Swain, Unite’s National Officer for Construction made a statement in a video posted online, in which he said:

“It remains imperative that we maintain social distance for all workers on site. When the Construction leadership Council published their advice back in March, construction sites could work, as long as social distancing was maintained. They made it clear that if social distancing could not be maintained, then the job should not be undertaken.

Unfortunately, a new version of this [Rev 3 of the SOP] has now been issued following further guidance from Public Health England. They are now saying that you can work if necessary, within 2 metres of each other, but you should limit this to 15 minutes.

Let’s be quite clear from Unite’s perspective, this is unacceptable, your health and safety cannot be sacrificed on the altar of the UK economy. Construction workers deserve to be protected, just as every other member of our community does. Therefore, we are making it quite clear to the employers that workers should not be required or requested to work within 2 metres of each other.”

Mr Swain went on to say that the union did not believe that construction workers should be asked to travel during peak hours and that sites should not open until 10 am and he called on construction workers to challenge employers who ‘seek to undermine the health and safety of workers’.

SIMIAN has produced a risk assessment and COVID-19 guidance document, intended for clients that are considering a return to work. These documents consider all of the widely available guidance, but are based on the Government’s recommendations of maintaining 2m of social distancing.

Clients requiring advice should contact us on 0345 6022 418 or via