“Clients must be flexible”: Irish builders’ federation issues guide for restarting work

The Irish Construction Industry Federation (CIF) has published a document offering guidance to companies on managing work on site during the coronavirus lockdown.

Irish construction is expected to be one of the first industries to resume work when restrictions are lifted.

Tom Parlon, the CIF’s director general, commented that he was "very hopeful" that the sector will gradually reopen in the next few months, subject to a relaxation of government health measures.

The CIF says the document should be used in "very specific ways" to ensure that contractors and  clients collaborate productively in adopting social distancing on site.

It says: "This is critical because if work cannot be carried out under these new circumstances, then work shouldn’t take place."

It advised that before construction resumes on a site, a revised risk assessment is conducted by the client and contractor, who should also agree on revised delivery and work schedules. Clients should then issue contractual instructions to accommodate safe working.

Companies should also advise clients as to the likely cost and time implications of implementing the safe working guidelines.

The CIF said "clients will need to be flexible and collaborative to allow companies the time and space to implement new ways of working".

Parlon told The Irish Times that this may involve early and late shift working so that fewer people are on site at any time. Proper sanitation facilities will also have to be provided and every site will have a Covid-19 inspector.

Ulster Bank’s monthly construction purchasing managers’ index for Ireland fell to 28.9 in March from 50.6 in February, indicating that the industry had "virtually collapsed", The Irish Times reports. It follows a directive from Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to halt "non-essential" construction at the end of March.

A copy of the guidelines can be downloaded here.

Image: Cranes over Cork, Ireland (Cristim77/Dreamstime)

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