Confusing and chaotic time
By Rob McGlennon, Deceuninck MD.
Over the past two weeks, with government encouragement, the construction industry has started to return safely to work. A survey by Build UK (29 April) of major contractors reported close to 70% of sites were back at work. Most major housebuilders, plumbers’ and builders’ merchants and DIY and hardware stores have either re-opened or have announced plans to reopen soon.
When the government put the UK into lockdown on March 23, it had no intention of shutting down construction, but a week or so later it was alarmed to discover that most of it had closed down.
It was a confusing and chaotic time. Government communications were unclear so when people saw others close down, they closed too. Asked to make government intentions clear, Alok Sharma, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, wrote to reassure the construction industry that it was essential, and that those unable to work from home could continue to work, operating safely with industry site operating procedures and guidance.
“Whether by building temporary hospital wards … constructing the infrastructure society needs to function or ensuring that people have safe and healthy homes to live in, you are delivering for our nation through this difficult time,” he said.
The return to work will not be business as usual. We need sensible precautions like regular handwashing, cleaning and social distancing and safe working methods to protect workers and customers. As we’re all doing when we shop in Tesco or collect a prescription, we’re adapting to a ‘new normal’.
The GGF issued sensible guidance last week (28 April) stressing that in accordance with government guidelines, installers can continue to work in homeowners’ properties provided they take relevant precautions. GGF managing director John Agnew said: “It can’t be any clearer; if it is safe to work to the government and Public Health England guidance, then tradespeople can work in domestic homes.”
A number of Deceuninck fabricators who are taking sensible precautions have resumed operations to fulfil existing contracts and new enquiries. Some have fabricated and installed windows for the new Nightingale hospitals.
We will be supplying PPE kit to Deceuninck fabricators and we’ve issued practical advice and guidelines to fabricators and installers in a leaflet and series of posters to help customers work safely in factories, offices and customer homes. The posters can be obtained free at shorturl.at/klvKU
We are unlikely to return to the old normal anytime soon, and window fabricators and installers are having to learn how to operate safely in the new normal, the world as it is. They’ll play a critical part in getting the economy safely back on its feet.