Industry experts warn of imminent construction site closures

build uk and Coronavirus

Build UK and the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) have said the UK construction industry is set to become ‘dramatically and severely affected’ from Coronavirus.

In a joint statement released today, the two organizations warned the situation had ‘accelerated’ over the weekend.

They warned that construction sites across the country will have to close if the UK government chooses to put the country into ‘lockdown’ and takes measures to restrict the movement of UK citizens.

Build UK said, the impact on construction’s supply chain, consisting of multiple layers of businesses, many of them small businesses with a significant amount of self-employed workers will be “catastrophic and unavoidable”.

Industry chiefs at Build UK and the CECA have set out a range of measures to prepare for the impact of coronavirus on construction:

  • Provide information on force majeure and other contractual clauses for the whole supply chain.
  • Call on the public sector to provide clarity on each of its construction contracts, in particular the contractual position regarding delays as a result of the coronavirus covid-19.
  • Talk to private sector clients urging them to take a similar stance.
  • Work with CITB to maintain continuity for all apprentices.

The organisations will ask government to:

  • Identify safety-critical work on the infrastructure network that is essential and must be continued and confirm arrangements and prompt payment for the work.
  • Confirm support available to employers to retain essential skills.

They will ask their members to:

  • Set up clear communication channels to all suppliers on their contracts and projects and provide regular updates.
  • Ensure payments to their supply chains are up to date.
  • Clarify the position over suspension of any works.
  • Identify if any activities can continue remotely or be brought forward.
  • Ensure projects are ready to recommence work as soon as possible.

Build UK and CECA said measures the groups’ members have already taken are:

  • Increasing welfare and hygiene facilities.
  • Liaising with clients on contingency arrangements.
  • Reviewing contractual arrangements to understand options now and in the future.
  • Liaising with funders and banks to secure sufficient credit.
  • Contacting HMRC on 0800 0159 559 to discuss arrangements for delaying payment of taxes.
  • Setting up project-specific communication networks with their supply chains.
  • Reviewing safety-critical elements of their projects.
  • Reviewing programmes.
  • Ensuring remote access is in place.
  • Offering those with the ability to work from home to do so.
  • Protecting business-critical functions such as payroll and accounts departments.
  • Splitting teams to avoid everyone becoming ill at the same time.
  • Reducing contact between leadership teams.
  • Cancelling or moving meetings and overseas travel to conference calls or online meetings.

They added: “We know that this is much more difficult for on-site construction roles including manufacturing facilities which will be directly affected by any restriction on movements.

“Many individuals are also concerned about their financial situation, the future of their business, their employer and their job.

“Communication at this time is key. To reassure workers and the supply chain where possible but also to ensure prompt action can be taken to implement government policy, advice and guidance, which is changing rapidly.”

Build UK has published an article on managing risks to your staff and workplace, while it has advised employers and businesses to continue to follow the most up-to-date government guidance, as well as referring to its advice sheet on home isolation.