Scottish construction warned against complacency in Covid safety efforts

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SCOTTISH construction workers have been praised by an industry leader who also warned that now is not the time to take their “foot off the gas” after Coronavirus cases were found on some sites.

The alert came from Russell Adfield, Head of Construction Sector and Policy at the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) during a recent online meeting of the Construction Industry Coronavirus (CICV) Forum.

Mr Adfield warned that January and February saw an increase in cases and said warned that in this critical period of the pandemic Scottish construction workers have to remain diligent. 

Russell Adfield - Business News Scotland
Head of Construction Sector and Policy at the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)

 Mr Adfield told the industry collective that it should be congratulated for helping to ensure the sector followed correct protocols – and said its role was more vital than ever if the industry was to continue to stay safe.

 Mr Adfield said: “During 2020, construction rose to the challenge and triumphed, protecting staff and providing the bedrock of the UK economy throughout the year.

 “However, although plenty of good work has been done, it is vital that we don’t take our foot off the gas and must all continue to work hard to protect against the very real threat that remains.

 “This year is a time of optimism and hope, and a time to be steadfast and disciplined. We need to reflect and learn, but also to develop and advance as we maintain and improve our health and safety performance.”

“Although December, was encouraging, January and February this year have seen an increase in positive reports of COVID cases on construction sites with the main issues continuing to be around social distancing and cleaning regimes.

This is a critical period in the pandemic and diligence must be maintained at all times.  Pandemic weariness and vaccination optimism can adversely affect personal and corporate behaviour, but we mustn’t take our eye off the ball.

 “Communication, cooperation and coordination in everything we do will be key in 2021 – and I know the CICV Forum will continue to help its members protect themselves and each other as we rebuild and recover.”

Mr Adfield said there had been 856 spot checks and 850 COVID site visits in Scotland since the start of the pandemic, which revealed 136 social distancing concerns.

 ecky Crosland, Chair of the Forum’s health and safety sub-group, said: “It’s encouraging to hear this recognition of the work that has been done, and good to know that the collective efforts of the CICV Forum are appreciated.

 “However, Russell is right – we can’t take our foot off the gas. There is a long way to go and the end of the current need for stringent health and safety measures is not yet in sight.

 “The construction industry has mostly been extremely patient, but we can’t let complacency creep in and spoil the good work that’s been done by so many in the past few months.”