Washing hands is more important than social distancing for a healthy site

The UK government has refined its guidance to construction companies on operations in England during the coronavirus pandemic.

It makes clear that sites do not have to close even if they cannot maintain adequate social distancing. However, frequent and thorough handwashing remains essential.

The guidance, based on Public Heath England advice, is for construction sites in England only. Site rules in other parts of the UK are controlled by the Northern Ireland executive, the Scottish government and the Welsh government.

The update guidance for England form the UK government states:

“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.

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