The Construction Industry Coronavirus (CICV) Forum has welcomed the first steps announced on 21 May to get the sector in Scotland back to work – but insists health and safety and collaboration must be at the heart of the phased return.
The collective – which has been working towards restart with a number of bodies, including the Construction Leadership Forum – commented after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Scotland will begin a process to reopen construction sites from 28 May, alongside other measures.
Under the phased return to work, businesses will be allowed to resume work on sites, based on a six-point plan which the government has developed with the industry. Collaboration and cooperation with trade unions will also be important to ensure a safe return.
The overriding focus on safety has been promoted by the forum, which has produced a range of industry advice about correct working during course of the crisis.
Vaughan Hart, managing director of forum member the Scottish Building Federation, said, “The shutdown in Scotland has been one of the biggest challenges the sector has ever faced and, while we wholeheartedly welcome the return to work, it must be carried out in the proper manner.
“This means that the health and safety of operatives is paramount, and the correct guidance and procedures must be adhered to at every phase of the proposed route map. The forum has been at the forefront of helping the industry by clarifying advice and this effort will now come into its own.”
The forum has said it now plans to release more guidance to help business owners, contractors and apprentices through each stage of the phased return, including advice for construction sites, domestic work and colleges.
Alan Wilson, chair of the CICV Forum and managing director of SELECT, the electrotechnical trade body for Scotland, added, “This is the news we have been waiting for and it has not come a moment too soon.
“We all understand the reasons why Scotland has been in virtual shutdown since March, and we all need to work together to assist the sector as it faces an uphill struggle to recover.”
Hew Edgar, head of UK government relations and city strategy, commented, “One of the most important lessons to come out of the crisis is the value of working together for mutual benefit.
“The forum was only created eight weeks ago, and is the perfect example of this principle, having brought together a huge range of organisations and individuals in a concerted effort to protect the industry.
“As we restart the sector, collaboration between everyone involved – clients, architects, surveyors, contractors, subcontractors and suppliers – will be of the utmost importance since many of the issues which beset the industry pre-Covid, such as late payments and retentions, will still need to be addressed.”