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Social Housing Projects To Be Among The First Construction Sites To Reopen

The Construction Industry Federation (CIF) has warned members that once they return to work if they do not comply rigorously with the new Covid-19 Standard Operating Procedures health and safety regulations, sites will be closed down again.

35 Social Housing Sites

This warning comes in the wake of the announcement by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government that construction is set to resume on 35 social housing projects to ensure local authorities can deliver accommodation for people currently in emergency accommodation or at risk of homelessness during the current pandemic.

Local authorities have identified several social housing projects that were, in some cases, substantially complete with minor snagging or other works to be completed.

It said the units in 35 schemes across 14 counties would provide valuable emergency solutions and critical accommodation for those needing to self-isolate or cocoon, and facilitate social distancing.

The housing projects are in Carlow, Cork City, Cork County, Dublin City Council, Fingal, South Dublin County Council, Kildare, Kilkenny, Louth, Meath, Tipperary, Waterford, Westmeath and Wicklow.

Essential Activity

The Department, the Housing Agency and the Housing Delivery Coordination Office (HDCO) have established a process where the relevant local authority will apply through the HDCO for a designation that a specific project falls within the meaning of essential activity under the health regulations.

The CIF has warned members that if they breach health and safety regulation when the first building works resume, all sites may be shut down.

New Standard Operating Procedures

In a letter to relevant developers entitled Recommencement of Social Housing Classified as Essential Projects, James Benson, Director, Housing, Planning & Development Services, CIF, highlights the CIF C-19 Pandemic Standard Operating Procedures and online induction process that all contractors must implement before sites can open.

Only workers and personnel who have successfully completed an online induction will be issued with a digital verification card to allow them to enter sites.

New measures include instruction that workers must travel to work individually “where possible”, and employers must ensure workers do not congregate on the way to the site, onsite or leaving the site or take lunch in groups”.

The CIF goes on to tell members: “Carrying out these measures while working will keep these sites open. It will also help make the case to Government, Health Authorities and other public sector clients to open other sites and the wider industry at a suitable time in the future. Failure to do so could see sites shut again for the duration of the pandemic, potentially months; a disastrous scenario for you, our sector, the industry and the wider economy.”