Construction workers in Scotland given all-clear for gradual return

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The first minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon has said construction workers in Scotland can gradually return to work

As part of Scotland’s next phase to ease lockdown, there will be a ‘soft start’ to work on construction sites.

Only projects where social distancing can be maintained will be able to recommence.

Nicola Sturgeon said: “Now one area where we judge we can make some further progress now, is in the construction industry.

“I can confirm today [11 June] that the sector will be able to move to the next step of its restart plan – which is something that was always envisaged as part of phase 1 of our route map. So it is not a change to phase 1.

“Earlier steps have allowed for health and safety planning, followed by preparatory work at construction sites.

“And moving to the next step of the industry plan will now allow workers to return to construction sites gradually, while using measures such as physical distancing and hand hygiene to ensure that they can do so safely.”

Sturgeon added: “I am very grateful to the sector and trade unions for the very responsible approach that they have taken during an incredibly difficult time.

“It’s important to be very clear though, that we still have a long way to go before construction will be working at full capacity, but there is no doubt this is a significant step in allowing an important industry to return safely to work.”

Sturgeon also announced the extension of the Help to Buy scheme to March 2022.

Industry response

The Construction Industry Coronavirus (CICV) Forum welcomed the announcement that domestic work will be included amongst the scope of construction work now permitted.

CICV Forum chair Alan Wilson, who is also managing director of SELECT, said: “The announcement about a return to work and the inclusion of domestic work in the lockdown easing will be a huge relief to the lots of businesses across the whole sector which provide essential services to homeowners all over Scotland.

“However, as always in construction, safety is the overriding consideration and firms must prepare to carry out work in a wholly changed working environment, which will produce its own new challenges.”

Gordon Nelson, Scotland director of Forum member the Federation of Master Builders, commented: “Health and safety, for employees and customers alike, will be critical as we work to bring the construction industry back to some semblance of normality.

“While this is good news, everyone concerned must recognise the importance of continuing to follow the guidance and ensuring that the only job that will be undertaken will be a safe job.”

Fiona Hodgson, chief executive of Forum member the Scottish and Northern Ireland Plumbing Employers’ Federation (SNIPEF), added: “The response from the construction industry across Scotland during this crisis has been impressive, coming together to take positive action for mutual benefit.

“While the announcement is welcome, we are not out of the woods yet and every company and employee involved in getting back to work needs to abide by the new restrictions under which we all must now operate.”

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