Construction Sites

coronavirus impact on UK roofing industry

Information on this page last updated: Monday 21 December at 11:01

As of March 2022, we will no longer be updating the NFRC Coronavirus Hub.

We will keep this decision in review should there be any change to government guidance regarding the pandemic.

​Construction Sites

Construction can continue in Tier-4

From Sunday 20th December, London and parts of the South East, and the East of England will move from Tier-3 (Very High Alert) to Tier-4 (Stay at Home) restrictions. The Tier-4 guidance is clear that where work cannot be undertaken from home, this can continue and workers should continue to travel to work. This includes construction, manufacturing and tradespeople working in other people’s homes, It is also permissible to continue to travel into a Tier-4 area from a Tier 1,2, or 3 area for work purposes, where this cannot be undertaken from home. Builder’s merchants can remain open, as long as they can do so safely.

Roofing contractors should continue to follow NFRC’s Guidance Note 14: Working during the Coronavirus as well as the NFRC Safe Working Checklist if working in someone’s home.

Government Guidelines to re-open society and the economy

Following the Prime Minister’s address to the nation on Sunday 10th May, the Government have published its COVID-19 Recovery Strategy, which plans to “return life to as close to normal as possible, for as many people as possible, as fast and fairly as possible, in a way that avoids a new epidemic, minimises lives lost, and maximises health, economic and social outcomes”. This set outs a road map, of three steps to gradually re-open society and the economy.

The first step, will apply in England from Wednesday 13 May, 2020. This makes clear that:

  • Workers who can work from home should continue to do so
  • Workers that cannot work from home should travel to work if their workplace is open, avoiding public transport where possible
  • Sectors of the economy, such as construction, that are allowed to be open, should be open and follow the relevant ‘COVID-19 Secure Guidelines’
  • It remains the case that anyone with symptoms of COVID-19, however mild, or is in a household where someone has symptoms should not leave their house to go to work
  • The Government is looking at making enforcement more stringent for con-compliance and will impose higher fines

COVID-19 Secure Guidelines

The Government, in collaboration with industry, has produced guidance for a number of sectors to ensure workplaces are as safe as possible.

 You can find the most relevant guidance to the roofing trade and manufacturing industry below:

The Construction Leadership Council’s Site Operating Procedures, and the NFRC’s COVID-19 Guidance Note and Toolbox talk will now be reviewed to ensure they reflect the latest guidance.

Test and Trace

Government guidance on working safely during Covid-19 for construction and other outdoor work, advises that companies should keep a temporary record of staff shift patterns and visitors to sites for 21 days. Any record should include the following information:

  • Staff
    • Names of staff members working on site
    • Contact phone numbers for each member of staff
    • Dates and times that staff are at work
  • Visitors
    • Name of the visitor. Where visitors are in a group, all that is needed is the name of the ‘lead member’ and the number of people in the group
    • Contact phone number for the visitor or lead member of the group
    • Date of the visit, what time they arrived, and if possible a departure time

 Unless otherwise agreed by the individual no other data should be recorded for the purposes of Test and Trace and any personal data should be deleted or securely disposed of after 21 days.

Where staff are notified by the Test and Trace service that they must self-isolate, any employer with fewer than 500 employee can apply to HMRC to recover the costs of paying Covid-19-related Statutory Sick Pay under the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme.

Working during the coronavirus outbreak

The NFRC Safety, Health ​and Environmental Committee have developed a Guidance Note (GN) and Toolbox Talk (TBT) (also available in Polish) to support contractors returning to work during the COVID-19 pandemic. The information within the GN links to Public Health England guidance and government advice regarding the construction sector and travelling to and from the workplace. The GN also references the Site Operating Procedures issued by the Construction Industry Council (CLC) COVID-19 Task Force, of which the NFRC are an active member.

If you require any further support or guidance, please contact the NFRC Coronavirus Helpdesk.

Reporting Unsafe Site Practice

CLC have issued clear Site Operating Procedures for continuing to work safely. If a contractor is in any doubt about the safety measures being implemented on a site, don't work and provide clear evidence (including photographs/video if appropriate) to any client who is stating otherwise.

The NFRC will support any of our members in this dilemma, and members can report incidences in confidence to​ NFRC.

More flexibility in construction working hours

The government have announced that, for the next 12 months, they now expect local planning authorities to approve requests to extend construction working hours up to 9pm, Monday to Saturday, unless there are compelling reasons against this. This could extend to 24 hour working in some areas, such as where there are no residential properties.

Any requests should be made to the local planning authority, who should then issue a decision in ten working days. Short term or modest increases can be agreed informally, whereas longer term changes will require a formal application.

These changes only relate to sites that are restricted by a planning condition. 

The government have published a Q and A on the changes to construction site working hours.

Building Control Inspections 

Building control bodies are being urged to undertake normal, regular site inspections where they can be done safely, under new government coronavirus guidelines.

In an update on the application of Building Regulations during the covid-19 outbreak, the Ministry for Housing and Local Government (MHCLG) said that for all building work being carried out, building control bodies should check regularly with those carrying out the work. Building control bodies should continue to assess deposited plans on their merits and ensure that “the statutory requirements to consult with fire and rescue authorities and sewage undertakers continue to be met”, it said.

And it added: “Building control bodies should continue to undertake normal, regular on-site inspection activity where this can be done safely, in line with Public Health England guidance. Building control bodies may wish to consider the use of alternative methods of checking compliance to supplement physical inspections, for example using digital photographs and video or other remote means of checking compliance.” Where remote inspections are used, building control bodies should “satisfy themselves within the limits of their professional skill and care that these remote inspections are used appropriately. Remote inspections should not normally be used as the sole method of assessing compliance.

Site Operating Procedures (SOP) Version 5

The Construction Leadership Council (CLC) has published Version 5 of the Site Operating Procedures to reflect recent changes to social distancing guidelines introduced on 4 July. The ‘one metre plus’ rule requires workers to stay two metres apart, or one metre with risk mitigation where two metres is not viable. Other changes to the SOP include:

  • Updates to the ‘When to Travel to Work’ section
  • The latest peak times for public transport
  • Entry systems to be regularly cleaned rather than between each use
  • Drivers to have access to welfare facilities
  • Canteens that have been closed or offered a restricted service may now re-open.

UK Government Guidance

Social distancing in the workplace during coronavirus (COVID-19): ​Construction Sector

Construction work plays an important role in ensuring public safety and the provision of public services. It can continue if done in accordance with the social distancing guidelines wherever possible.

Where it is not possible to follow the social distancing guidelines in full in relation to a particular activity, you should consider whether that activity needs to continue for the site to continue to operate, and, if so, take all the mitigating actions possible to reduce the risk of transmission.

If you decide the work should go ahead, you should advise staff to wash their hands frequently using soap and water for 20 seconds, and especially after blowing their nose, sneezing or coughing, on arrival at work, before and after eating, after using public transport, and when they arrive home. Where facilities to wash hands are not available, hand sanitiser should be used.

You should still advise staff to keep 2-metres apart as much as possible.

You should plan work to minimise contact between workers and avoid skin-to-skin and face-to-face contact. Where face-to-face contact is essential, this should be kept to 15 minutes or less wherever possible.

As much as possible, keep groups of workers working together in teams that are as small as possible (cohorting). For example, you keep vehicle crews working together, rather than mixing crew members on different shifts.

Staff should also wash their hands each time before getting into enclosed machinery (such as diggers) with others, and wash their hands every time they get out. To help with this, you should consider adding additional pop-up handwashing stations or facilities, providing soap, water and/or hand sanitiser.

Employees should keep the windows of enclosed machinery or enclosed spaces open for ventilation and be careful to avoid touching their face at all times. The inside of cabs should be regularly cleaned, particularly between use by different operators.

You should try to use stairs in preference to lifts or hoists. Where lifts or hoists must be used, you should lower their capacity to reduce congestion and contact at all times, and regularly clean touchpoints, such as doors and buttons.

To protect your staff, you should remind colleagues daily to only come into work if they are well and no one in their household is self-isolating.

The Construction Leadership Council has published more detailed advice on how you might carry out government guidance.

Additional useful information for firms can be accessed on BuildUK’s website.

Also see Government advice for when working in people's homes.

Health and Safety Executive: Safe Working

A joint statement regarding working during the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, has been released by the HSE, the TUC and the CBI and is intended to clarify their position regarding safe working practices. This statement quite clearly states that:

“Firms that can safely stay open and support livelihoods should not be forced to close by misunderstandings about government guidance.”

The HSE have launched a dedicated webpage for firms that require guidance or further clarification of existing guidance, which also includes what the Government has classed as essential and non-essential work. In addition, they have also pointed stated the following:

  1. Keep your business open. With the exception of some non-essential shops and public venues, we are not asking any other businesses to close—indeed it is important for business to carry on.
  2. Employers should take every possible step to facilitate their employees working from home. Where it is not be possible to work from home you can still travel for work purposes, provided you are not showing coronavirus symptoms and neither you nor any of your household are self-isolating. 
  3. Employers who have people in their offices or onsite should ensure that employees are able, where possible, to follow Public Health guidelines on social distancing (including, where possible, maintaining a 2-metre distance from others), and hygiene (washing their hands with soap and water often for at least 20 seconds). Follow government guidance on how to keep your employees safe.

Temporary Closure of Sites 

NFRC have issued new guidance on the points to consider when developing the procedure for the temporary closure of a site as a result of coronavirus. Download the Temporary Closure of Sites guidance.

CSCS Cards

Due to the coronavirus pandemic and the requirements of the Public Health Guidelines the test centres where the CSCS tests are undertaken have all been forced to close which is having an impact on new cards being issued and existing cards being renewed. Due to this CSCS are taking the following steps:

In recognition that COVID-19 will prevent some construction workers from meeting CSCS’s card application requirements, we are asking the industry to support the following temporary measures:

  1. Requesting employers and those responsible for site access and card checking procedures to use their discretion towards workers whose cards have expired since mid-March onward.

    This is at the employer’s discretion until the situation has stabilised.
  2. CSCS has extended the grace period for card renewals from six months after the card expires to twelve months. This means that the card can be renewed, once the CITB HS&E test has been passed, up to one year from the card’s expiry date.

    This will assist those applicants struggling to find availability to sit the test and renew their card.  
  3. In response to Covid-19 CITB have developed some free of charge products to help employers determine if an employee is safe to work on their site.

Employers should expect their workers to hold a valid CSCS card as proof of their training and qualifications. However, until COVID-19 is brought under control we are asking the industry to support these temporary measures. Further information can be found by following list link.

See Construction Skills Certification Scheme website for more details.

​Travel to Work Letter

Download this Microsoft Word template letter which CLC recommend construction workers carry with them when travelling to/from site.

Working Safely On Site

As an employer there is a legal duty to provide your employees a safe working environment, which at this present time would also include following the Public Health Guidelines with regards to the coronavirus pandemic. If you deem that it is not possible to provide this safe working environment, even by utilising a revised enhanced risk assessment then you are perfectly within your right to postpone works until this can be assured. Please note that this would include how your operatives travel to site and travel home again. Despite certain comments in social media, the NFRC like all trade associations cannot mandate to all its members that all sites should be shut, but we urge all our members to follow this advice.

It goes without saying that, irrespective of the contractual position, the health and safety of your employees must be paramount. If you are being told to go to work on a construction site and you consider that it is not safe to do so, we strongly recommend that you record your position in writing. It is critical that open and honest dialogue is maintained with your client to advise them of your decision and work with them to mitigate the length of any postponement including the provision of revised contract programmes. During this dialogue it would also be advantageous to explain the reasons why you deem that a safe place of work cannot be guaranteed listing examples that you have witnessed recently on the site.

Numerous sites are implementing the Construction Leadership Councils “Site Operating Procedures” which includes the social distancing measures, however without the correct supervision of this system or a revised site set up then operatives could still be putting themselves in harm’s way. Directors could face the prospect of prosecution, if an employee contracts and dies of the virus in circumstances where it was found that the safe system of work agreed was flawed.

Working Safely On Site: Essential Workers and the General Public

There is ​an separate issue of essential workers receiving abuse from certain sections of the public in trying to carry out their jobs. The NFRC is urgently lobbying for this matter to be urgently addressed.

Confidential Reporting

If you are being asked to work on a site that you do not feel is safe, ie not in line with the latest Site Operating Procedures; or if you are being pressurised to agree to unreasonable practices or payment terms; NFRC are here to help.

You can report these instances in confidence ​to NFRC.

GN14: ​Working during the Coronavirus Outbreak

NFRC Guidance Note 14 (COVID-19) - Working During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Download NFRC's Guidance Note on Working During the Coronavirus Outbreak.

GN15: ​RPE and Protecting against Covid-19

NFRC Guidance Note 15 - RPE and Protecting against Covid-19

Download NFRC's Guidance Note on RPE and Protecting against Covid-19.

GN1​6: ​Employees at Increased Risk of Covid-19 Returning to Work

NFRC Guidance Note 16 - Employees at Increased Risk of Covid-19

Download NFRC's Guidance Note on Employees at Increased Risk of Covid-19 Returning to Work.

TBT: ​Working during the Coronavirus Outbreak

NFRC Toolbox Talk - Working During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Download the ​NFRC's ToolBox Talk on Working During the Coronavirus Outbreak.

NFRC ToolBox Talk Praca Podczas Pandemii Koronawirusa v1.0_Page_1

Also available to download in Polish: Praca Podczas Pandemii Koronawirusa.

Site Operating ProceduresCLC Site Operating Procedures Version 5

Download the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) Site Operating Procedures for social distancing requirements to minimise the risk of spread of infection.

covid-19 the facts home page 

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