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TfL issues guidance for construction workers travelling to work

Transport for London has issued construction firms with guidance on how their workers can safely use the capital’s public network amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

It said: “As employers, you can help by instructing all those who can work from home, including administrative and head office staff, to continue to do so.

“Enhance the facilities you offer, such as lockers, showers and cycle storage, to enable your workforce to walk and cycle all or part of their journey to site.”

Is the Migrant Worker Shortfall Causing Problems?

With a call for British born people to go to the fields and start collecting the veg before it rots, it seems the focus on the construction industry is somewhat missing.

And with Priti Patel focus on reducing immigration, it seems like this won’t be getting much easier.

What does it mean ?

Well, with lower construction workers available, there may be an increase in an unskilled workforce, with a lower age limit.

But also it means that if you have your teams in place, you should do more to keep them in place so that other construction companies don’t try and steal them away from you.

It’s time to build the famil spirit with your teams, and this means having a more caring approach to both building and keeping your teams as we go through 2020.

Builders merchant sales tumble despite safety gear boost

The results of the first quarter sales from builders merchant sales show the initial dip response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Figures come from the Builders Merchant Building Index (BMBI) and they show a 6.7 per cent year-on-year decline in the value of sales to builders and contractors in the first quarter of 2020.

This is a much steeper 15.1 per cent year-on-year decline.

Sadly the upcoming figures for April are expected to show an even bigger collapse.

Many builders merchants have closed their outlets in the initial response to the government shutdown.

An unsure future

“Projections for the remainder of 2020 are difficult to make, but we know there will be a significant drop in April sales,” commented Emile van der Ryst, senior client insight manager at market research firm GfK, which gathers the BMBI data.

More data

Sales of heavy building materials including bricks, blocks and insulation fell by 6.5 per cent in the quarter; plumbing, heating and electrical sales fell by 7.4 per cent; sales of timber and joinery supplies fell 11.1 per cent; and tools dropped by 12.7 per cent.

HSE resumes site inspections as low enforcement figures revealed

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has just announced that it is restarting “proactive” inspections of construction sites.

This move follows a government announcement of more cash for the organisation and the prime minister Boris Johnson has promised the body would carry out “spot inspections” to make sure businesses were safe places to work.

The HSE had stopped carrying out inspections when the lockdown announcement in March, despite sectors such as construction continuing to operate.

Contractors are signing up for COVID-19 compliance courses

Housebuilders such as Wates, Kier, Vistry and Bellway have signed up to a COVID-19 compliance course, and more are expected to follow.

The course has been launched by the construction recruitment firm O’Neill & Brennan, who will provide coronavirus training for construction workers. 

The course is certified on the Register of Regulated Qualifications by Ofqual, and will provide contractors with the opportunity to have a fully qualified COVID-19 compliance marshal on site. 

This is designed to provide health and safety guidance on social distancing, how to sanitise sites, and how to spot coronavirus symptoms.

I would suggest this is an essential step forward to securing the continued safety on your building sites.

Whilst the teams will likely groan of yet more training to be had, this time, it’s a little bit different given the impact that COVID-19 has already had in the construction industry.

Furloughed workforce ‘drops to less than a quarter’

According to research from Build UK this week , the proportion of construction workers furloughed has fallen below 25 per cent.

It surveyed 25 of its members, which includes some of the country’s largest contractors, which revealed the number of workers having their wages paid by the government has fallen from 30 per cent four weeks ago to 22 per cent.

However data from the Office of National Statistics, which surveyed more SMEs, had a different outlook, with the proportion of staff furloughed in the two weeks ending 7 May at 45.6 per cent.

This was pretty much unchanged compared to the previous two-week period ending 19 April when it stood at 45.7 per cent.

The ONS surveyed more than 1,100 construction companies. to get this data.

How about you, are you back at work yet ?

Construction activity in Europe expands at faster pace

The eurozone has experienced its fastest expansion in construction activity expansion for a year, supported by increases in worker numbers and purchasing.

“The eurozone construction sector delivered mixed results in February as faster activity growth was accompanied by signs of a slowdown in demand,” said Eliot Kerr, economist at IHS Markit, which compiles the survey. “Despite activity rising at the quickest rate for a year, new business growth decelerated to the slowest in the current five-month sequence of expansion. Such a reading indicates softening underlying demand and can act as a prelude to slower activity growth. That said, firms were confident enough to continue taking on additional staff and buying extra materials, and forecasts for future activity remained strong.”

The rate of job creation accelerated to the quickest for almost a year. Across the euro area’s three largest economies, employment growth was quickest in Germany.

The end for red diesel?

Various national media, including the BBC and the Financial Times, have reported that new chancellor Rishi Sunak will scrap the red diesel rebate in his budget statement next week.

This will mean users of diesel powered construction machinery paying an extra 47 pence on every litre of diesel consumed.

Red diesel the same as regular diesel but has a dye in it to indicate that it is largely tax exempt. The rebate for gas oil has existed in one form or another since the inception of fuel duty in 1928. This was because fuel duty was intended to be a tax on motoring.

Red diesel use today makes up approximately 15% of total diesel use.

Scrapping the rebate will generate an additional £2.4bn a year for Treasury coffers at the expense of farmers, construction companies, crane hire companies and the like.  

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