Build UK demands site access

By Euan Youdale06 April 2020

IPAF has put its weight behind Build UK, which has written to the UK Government in an attempt to secure permission for construction, associated trades and supply chain workers to travel and maintain access to active construction sites during the coronavirus outbreak.

Following the Government’s announcement of enhanced restrictions to contain the spread of the virus at the end of March, some confusion has persisted as to who is allowed to travel for work.

Sarah Garry, BuildUK, praises PAL Cards

Sarah Garry, BuildUK, at IPAF’s UK Elevation event in 2019.

Many construction sites have closed or been scaled back, while others push ahead as essential projects, for instance on hospitals or other medical facilities, as well as maintenance of infrastructure, defence, utilities or other installations. Many members of the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) are required for work at height to be carried out safely and effectively on these projects.

Build UK has requested that the Government recognises key construction workers and those in associated trades, including equipment hire companies, specialist professions and builder’s merchants, as exempt from advice against “non-essential” travel, and has produced a template letter for those in managerial positions to issue their workers in case they are challenged while travelling or prevented from gaining entry to sites.

Giles Councell, the International Powered Access Federation’s (IPAF) director of operations, said, “As a member of Build UK, IPAF welcomes this move to clarify key worker status from the Government. We hope members will be reassured by the work being done to recognise the importance of their employees in keeping essential projects moving and maintaining vital infrastructure.

“In these times of uncertainty, I am sure people will welcome the clarity that organisations such as IPAF and Build UK can bring, and those who need to keep going to work during this difficult time are assured they are doing the right thing.

“The guidance that Build UK provides can help employees demonstrate if challenged that they are doing their job and helping to keep people safe up and down the country, whether helping build or maintain hospitals or other key buildings, servicing utilities or infrastructure including roads and railways. This includes MEWP or MCWP operators, installers, delivery drivers or maintenance technicians.

“IPAF recommends that all powered access workers follow the latest UK Government guidance to minimise risk to themselves or others, to restrict the spread of this virus. Check the IPAF and Build UK websites for regular updates regarding the outbreak.”

Peter Douglas, CEO and managing director of IPAF, commented, “Wherever temporary work at height is required in the UK, one of the safest means of accomplishing this is to deploy specialist powered access equipment, used by a trained and familiarised operator, under proper supervision at all times.

“IPAF does not accept that safety standards should be undermined or corners be cut in any way owing to the ongoing public health situation, therefore we welcome this move by Build UK to secure proper recognition for the specialist services that continue to be provided by the powered access sector wherever they are needed. Please stay safe during these challenging times.”


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