COVID-19 - Safe installation practice onsite and in the home

15 April 2020 EcoTherm Insulation
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Construction workers and tradespeople are well versed in health and safety procedures and understand how important it is to stick to these guidelines throughout the working day. With the outbreak of the Coronavirus, new guidance has now been issued and it is essential to check your site operations are in compliance to keep you and your workers safe, and to help prevent the spread of the virus.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has published documents covering work both on construction sites and in people’s homes. Additional information is available via the Public Health Authorities in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and through the Site Operating Procedures from the Construction Leadership Council. It is also important to confirm in any additional restrictions are being applied in COVID alert areas.
 
In this blog, we’ll give an overview of current guidance and best practice when installing EcoTherm Insulation PIR boards.

The BEIS construction site document and Site Operating Procedures are clear, accessible and concise, so it is important to take some time to read through the documents and ensure working practice on projects – whether it be a home extension or large construction site – meet the requirements.
 
The BEIS document requires that a thorough risk assessment is carried out on all sites.

Some of the key points covered include:
  • staggering worker’s shifts to reduce the numbers accessing site facilities such as entrances, canteens etc. at any one time. If workers have to use public transport, then their shifts should also be staggered to avoid peak travel times (5.45 – 8.15 and 16.00 – 17.30);
  • require workers to avoid car sharing unless absolutely necessary;
  • separating sites into clear areas and assigning workers to fixed teams;
  • adjusting the number of entrances to site so that these can be carefully monitored;
  • ensuring additional hand washing facilities are provided across site;
  • assessing all work to maintain 2 metre social distancing and where this is not possible to ensure everything possible is done to manage transmission risk;
  • taking reasonable steps to ensure staff can work from home where possible;
  • carrying out more regular cleaning of touchpoints such as handles and rails; and
  • restricting access to facilities such as the canteen and toilets to limit congestion and ensuring workers wear face masks when in canteens aside from when sat at tables; and
  • that face coverings can reduce the spread of the virus in enclosed spaces. These can be simple cloth coverings and should be supplied by employers. Any respiratory protective equipment (RPE) such as dust masks should be reserved for those whose work requires them. The coverings should be changed or cleaned every day.
 
A notice is provided with the BEIS document showing sites are compliant with the government guidance. This should be posted on the worksite and a copy of the risk assessment provided to staff.

All sites should also take part in the NHS Track and Trace system requiring them to keep a record of all site visitors for 21 days. 

Workers should not come to site if:
  • they show identified symptoms of Coronavirus or if it is within 14 days of anyone within their household displaying these symptoms; and/or
  • they are classified as, or living with anyone identified as being, extremely vulnerable (those identified as being at increased risk are also advised to remain home).
 
If a worker shows any symptoms, they should return home without touching door handles or railings and ensuring to cough or sneeze into the crook of their arm. Their manager should be informed, and procedures should be in place to ensure they can get home safely if this situation arises.
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When working in homes, tradespeople must also complete a thorough risk assessment following the recommended steps in the BEIS document and Site Operating Procedures.
 
These include:
  • contacting homeowners before arrival to confirm they are not self-isolating and no one in the home is displaying symptoms. Work should only be carried out in these households if it is to deal with an issue which presents a direct risk to safety (such as emergency plumbing);
  • asking homeowners to open all internal doors to minimise contact;
  • limiting the number of staff and using fixed team pairings for work requiring two persons;
  • washing your hands on entry and regularly throughout your work (keep a hand sanitiser with you in case washing facilities are not available); and
  • keeping workspaces well ventilated by opening windows.
 
A notice is again provided within the BEIS document which must be displayed where you are working to show you are in compliance with the government’s guidance.
 
As above, you should not go to work if you are displaying symptoms, if the first person within your household displayed symptoms within 14 days or if you or a member of your household is classified as extremely vulnerable.
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Most builder’s merchants remain open, however, there may be changes to how they operate. Where possible check the merchant’s website or contact them prior to arrival as it may be necessary to order and pay for goods, including EcoTherm boards, in advance.

Delivery of product on-site

If you are having product delivered to a worksite then the drop off location should be carefully pre-planned and communicated to the driver before their arrival. Facilities should be made available to allow any driver to wash their hands once they get out of the vehicle.
 
As usual, boards should be stored in a flat, dry area off the ground. If this is within a building, then it should be well ventilated with care taken to regularly wipe handles and other touchpoints. If it is outdoors, then they should be covered with opaque polyethylene or tarpaulin.
 

Handling and Installation

At all times, including during handling and installation, workers should maintain 2 metre social distancing (or 1 metre with risk mitigration where this is possible). Ideally, pallets should be mechanically moved to a location near to the installation site to reduce site traffic. Operators should wash their hands before and after use and regularly wipe down equipment.
 
A single worker should cut away the protective wrapping. As the boards are rigid and lightweight, it should be possible for 1.2 x 0.45 m and 1.2 x 0.6 m boards to be handled by a single worker. Larger 2.4 x 1.2 m boards may require two workers to lift. In this case, they should remain at either long end of the board, maintaining 2 metre distancing and ideally facing in the same direction rather than face to face.
 
Before carrying out an installation, the application should be carefully pre-assessed to minimise the number of workers and ensure correct distancing can be maintained. For example, this may include using additional protective boards when laying flooring or flat roof insulation to provide further access routes. Internal workspaces should be well ventilated.
 
Any tools used to cut or install the boards should be retained by individual workers and regularly cleaned.
 

Clean-up

Think carefully about how any offcut waste will be dealt with to limit site traffic. On larger sites this may include the use of waste chutes. As with all touchpoints, any skips or chutes should be regularly cleaned throughout the day and workers should maintain distancing when approaching them.
 
Any reusable PPE equipment (such as hard hats and gloves) should be retained by the individual worker and cleaned after every shift.
 

Securing site in the event of closure

If you need to close a site or stop work on a house, then insulation materials should be stored as outlined above. For exposed applications you should also ensure edges are properly protected and, where possible, cover the insulation with well secured weatherproofing.

Please note – the above advice has been written in accordance with guidance up to 20.11.2020 including Site Operating Procedures version 6. We will look to update this as and when new guidance is issued

EcoTherm Insulation Ltd

Harvey Road

Burnt Mills Industrial Estate

Basildon

Essex

SS13 1QJ

01268 591155

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