Almost two-thirds of the 146 members of the United Kingdom’s National Federation of Demolition Contractors (NFDC) have now taken part in the organisation’s survey into site operation during the Coronavirus pandemic – and while the majority face closed sites for now, the industry is still planning for projects after COVID-19.

National Federation of Demolition Contractors graphic showing open and closed sites

Going into Easter, 83% of respondents had suffered site closures

The single-question survey, launched on April 3, asked member companies whether all, some or none of their job sites are closed in the light of government restrictions and social distancing requirements introduced on March 23.

In the pre-Easter update of the survey response, up to and including April 9, the NFDC reported a slight move in the previous figures, with 45% of respondents declaring all sites closed (compared to 42.5%) on April 8; 38% with some open and some closed (down from 42.5%), and contractors with all sites open making up the remaining 17% (previously 15%).

Even for sites still open, the NFDC reports a far from normal picture, with comments from respondents to the survey including the following:

  • “All normal demolition sites are closed, we are only conducting emergency rail & reactive works at the moment”
  • “We are working on just two sites where operatives are able to work in accordance with government guidelines, all other sites have been shut down by clients”
  • “Only emergency sites are operational”
  • “One out of our five live sites is still operating, the rest have been safely shutdown.”

However, the federation reports that: “Looking forward, members are admirably adopting a positive outlook and proactively looking at safe ways to secure business post COVID-19. Pragmatic members are taking opportunities for estimating works (with lone travel by car to assess jobs, while meeting the required social distancing) and welcoming clients’ signs of optimism with project start dates being confirmed for projects later this year.”

The NFDC added: “Our voice throughout the pandemic has been clear and consistent. We are not an enforcement body and cannot force demolition contractors to cease working under any circumstances.

“However, we exist to advocate the safeguarding of the demolition workforce and the general public - and to maintain the highest industry standards.

“We advise members who are not able to practically comply with Public Health England guidelines and the Construction Leadership Council’s Site Operating Procedures on any specific site to close that site down safely, to protect operatives and the public.”

Because of the ever-changing nature of the pandemic and its implications for the industry, the NFDC emphasises that the figures are a rough snapshot of the impact of COVID-19 and should be viewed as such, but it said in general that “all members in this [the some sites open/some closed] category have reduced operations dramatically”.

Members who have not yet responded can still do so as there is no formal closing date for the survey, and the NFDC thanked the 96 members who have replied for their feedback.

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