COVID-19: "Essential" cladding work will continue, confirms Minister
Essential safety work to replace unsafe cladding on high-rise buildings will continue during the COVID-19 emergency, following a commitment from Mayors around the country to Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick MP yesterday.
The Mayors of Greater Manchester, Sheffield City Region, London, Liverpool City Region, and the West Midlands have all pledged to ensure vital safety work can continue on high-rise blocks with dangerous cladding, where necessary social distancing rules are being followed.
A number of sites across the country have been leading the way, adapting their procedures in ways that include:
- having decontamination areas on-site, enabling workers to hose down overalls before safe disposal
- providing additional toilet and washing facilities, reducing the number of workers gathering together
- splitting up work teams with a view to minimising the risk of infection.
Where work continues on-site, detailed guidance is available from the Construction Leadership Council on further reducing the risk, including measures for maintaining high standards of hygiene.
In March, the Ministry of Housing appointed construction consultants Faithful & Gould to advise anyone planning and doing ACM cladding remediation work. The company will also help identify and increase awareness of safe practice under current COVID-19 restrictions.
The National Fire Chiefs Council has also published revised guidance for blocks with a waking watch in place, in the context of COVID-19. The NFCC is conscious that with people staying home for an extended period of time, there are likely to be more fires in blocks around the country. The guidance can be downloaded from the NFCC website here.
Key points from the guidance are that:
- every effort should be made to maintain the waking watch at any premises in accordance with the guidance.
- any premises with a waking watch should review their fire risk assessment and be in regular communication with the waking watch and residents.
- Where one is not yet in place, a Common Fire Alarm should be installed.
The NFCC believes that anyone providing a waking watch should be considered a key worker, as they are providing vital public services and critical safety functions in order to keep homes safe.
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Author : Mary-Anne Bowring
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