Workers are still unable to comply with 2m distancing
You may remember that we previously reported that we felt all LTC work should be halted due to COVID-19. Well, it seems HE/LTC workers are still unable to comply with 2m distancing rule.
There are various investigative works being carried out, such as Ground Investigations, Archaeological Trial Trenching surveys, and Utility Trial Trenching survey.
What should be happening on LTC sites?
Government policy is that construction sites can continue to operate, provided they do so in a safe manner consistent with Public Health England(PHE) guidance. Information on this can be done can be found at www.gov.uk/guidance/remediation-and-covid-19-building-safety-update-27-march-2020 . There is no distinction between essential and non-essential work.
The Construction Leadership Council (CLC) have provided further guidance on site operating procedures and how construction sites should operate safely during the COVID-19 pandemic – www.constructionleadershipcouncil.co.uk/news/site-operating-procedures-version-3-published/ (published 14 April 2020).
Amongst other things this guidance includes:
Work Planning to Avoid Close Working
In line with Public Health England (PHE) guidelines, 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.
Sites and work need to be planned and organised to avoid crowding and minimise the risk of spread of infection by following PHE and HSE guidance and the advice within these Site Operating Procedures.
Sites should remind the workforce (e.g. at daily briefings) of the specific control measures necessary to protect them, their colleagues, families and the UK population.
Hierarchy of Controls
If you are not able to work whilst maintaining a two metre distance, you should consider whether the activity should continue and, if so, risk assess it using the hierarchy of controls below and against any sector-specific guidance.
Rearrange tasks to enable them to be done by one person, or by maintaining social distancing measures (2 metres). Avoid skin to skin and face to face contact. Consider alternative or additional mechanical aids to reduce worker interface. Only absolutely necessary meeting participants should attend site meetings, attendees should be at least two metres apart from each other.
Where the social distancing measures (2 metres) cannot be applied:
Minimise the frequency and time workers are within 2 metres of each other. Minimise the number of workers involved in these tasks. Workers should work side by side, or facing away from each other, rather than face to face. Lower the worker capacity of lifts and hoists to reduce congestion and contact at all times. Regularly clean common touchpoints, doors, buttons, handles, vehicle cabs, tools, equipment etc. Workers should wash their hands before and after using any equipment.
Keep groups of workers that have to work within 2 metres:
Together in teams e.g. (do not change workers within teams). As small as possible. Away from other workers where possible
Where face to face working is essential to carry out a task when working within 2 metres:
Keep this to 15 minutes or less where possible. Consider introducing an enhanced authorisation process for these activities. Provide additional supervision to monitor and manage compliance
Sites should not use Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) for Coronavirus (Covid-19) where the two metre social distancing guidelines are met. Where it is not possible to maintain a two metre distance, each activity should be risk assessed using the hierarchy of controls and against any sector-specific guidance, mindful that masks (RPE) are the last resort in the hierarchy.
So what has actually been happening on LTC sites?
Following on from the previous evidence that can be viewed at www.thamescrossingactiongroup.com/all-ltc-work-should-be-halted-now/
Taken by a resident on their daily exercise whilst walking along a footpath off Thong Lane, Kent on 3rd April 2020. LTC workers clearly not 2m apart.
And it wasn’t any better north of the river in Orsett either
Two workers on the site to the North of Stifford Clays Rd, in Orsett can be seen working very closely together.
And then a third worker joins them, all 3 working in very close proximity.
The worker using this LTC vehicle was spotted parking up in a local pub car park, in North Stifford (Thurrock) on 7th April 2020 before walking across the road and going into the village shop.
We are aware from our site visits that many of these workers are not local and travel into the area from afar. During COVID-19 pandemic staff are meant to have been briefed as regards limiting their movements.
Whilst our local shop staff are risking their own health/lives to serve and support our local communities do we really need/want LTC workers, who are usually not locals, coming into our villages and adding to the risk to us all?
This image was taken in Kent, and clearly shows a group of LTC workers standing having what looks like some kind of site meeting.
Remember CLC guidelines state that only absolutely necessary meeting participants should attend site meetings, attendees should be at least two metres apart from each other.
And more photos taken in the Thong Lane area in Kent (faces blurred for privacy)
We would like to thank the residents who have shared the images with us. Especially at this time where most of us are doing the right thing and staying safe and staying home, we have been relying on residents who can gather such evidence for us from the safety of their homes and gardens, or on their local daily exercise.
We would also mention that LTC workers/contractors have also been approaching residents, who are taking their daily exercise walking along local footpaths near to the LTC sites, asking them what they are doing and telling them to clear off. We have raised this matter with HE/LTC and are awaiting a response, as all public footpaths remain open, and if LTC workers are working to COVID-19 guidance then what is their problem?! This has also previously happened to the North of the river earlier in the year too.
Clearly and despite many complaints HE/LTC and their contractors are repeatedly breaking the 2m distancing guideance, and appear to have no consideration for the safety of not only their own workers, but everyone else and our NHS. Truly irresponsbile, unethical, and immoral behaviour in our opinion.
Further evidence can be found on the first update that we provided in March which can be found – All LTC work should be halted NOW
LTC investigative works are very likely being carried out on private land, so please be aware and respectful to stick to public footpaths and rights of way. These sites can be hazardous, security and barriers etc are there for your health and safety as much as the workers, please be sensible and safe at all times. Just because you may be witnessing a lack of compliance to the distancing ruling doesn’t mean anyone should putting themselves or others at risk, or confront workers. We understand it can be very emotional dealing with LTC issues, but we do not condone or support any unacceptable behaviour from members of the public towards workers on LTC site. Safety is always the priority, after all let’s not forget the concerns over lack of distancing is because of the risk to workers and everyone else and the NHS.
What can be done?
The Health & Safety Executive is responsible for enforcing PHE guidance on construction sites. Concerns can be reported via using an online form, which can be accessed on their website at https://www.hse.gov.uk/contact/concerns.htm.
It is important to remember that there are guidelines for everyone to be following during the pandemic. However, if whilst following those guidelines you see anything of concern relating to an LTC site, and can capture photos or video safely (without putting yourself or anyone else at any risk), please feel free to send copies to TCAG via email – firstname.lastname@example.org. Please state the time, date, and location that the photos/video was captured, providing any additional details that might be relevant. Please also let us know if you are happy to provide us with permission to use the photos/video for updates etc.
If you wish to contact HE/LTC directly then email email@example.com. Again feel free to contact TCAG into the email if you wish. You may also wish to copy in your local MP/council.
Latest LTC site works announcements (April 2020)
All LTC work should be halted NOW (March 2020) – First update re non compliance of 2m distancing
COVID-19 Updates (March 2020)
Utility Trial Trenching Survey works announced (March 2020)
TCAG Ground Investigate Site Visit (Dec 2019)
Archaeological Trial Trenching Survey works announced (Nov 2019)
Ground Investigation works announced (July 2019)