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Construction site operating procedures

Heather Powell sets out the key considerations for construction site closures

In response to the Coronavirus crisis, the Construction Leadership Council published new site operating procedures on 2 April, but then withdrew them on 3 April following representations from the industry. Despite this, it is clear that change is coming regarding the operation of construction sites.

Many sites have already closed, including those of major housebuilders such as Taylor Wimpey and Galliard, as well as commercial sites like 22 Bishopsgate.

Closing sites for Christmas happens every year, but this closure is likely to be for a longer period. So, in the event that you need to close your site, what should you be doing?

To help answer this question, we have put together a short checklist of some of the steps we think are essential.

Checklist of essential steps for construction sites

  1. Public open space on your site: Close and secure public open space for the safety of everyone, and to help the over-stretched emergency services.
  2. Safety: Complete all works required to make the site safe.
  3. Security: Make the site secure. This includes works to scaffolding, for example.
  4. Maintenance of Security: Put in place systems to ensure you know if the site security has been breached and consider the actions you will take if it is.
  5. Insurance: Speak to your broker and take any actions required to ensure your insurance cover stays in place while the site is closed.
  6. Maintenance: Emergency works may be required. Establish systems to ensure they are identified and then undertaken. For example, where sites have occupied properties you should check if pumping stations have backup, given there has been a major shortage of toilet rolls.
  7. Off-hire equipment: Preserving your cash is key but you also need to factor in the cost of bringing equipment back on-hire.
  8. Furlough staff: Where employees have no work to do, take advantage of the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme furlough measures.
  9. Sub-contractors: Ensure your contractors know how to apply for the Government support available to them. If you have the resource to help them make the application, then they are more likely to return to your site when it reopens. Remind them that they can defer their July 2020 income tax payment to January 2021.
  10.  VAT: File your VAT return, cancel your direct debit and defer payment. You can find out more here.
  11.  Other taxes. Apply for delay in payment of PAYE, NI, and Corporation Tax. We explore this further here.
  12.  Paperwork: This is the time to get all site paperwork up to date such as drawing reviews, pushing on with the adoption of roads and other infrastructure, and finally updating those operational manuals.
  13.  Cash-flow forecasts: Update your cash-flow forecast for the year. Do you need further funding? If yes, consider making an application for further funding from your bank or, if you are eligible, an application for a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.
  14.  Payments: Subcontractors and professionals will also be going through their paperwork and will be finding works they have undertaken that they have not invoiced for, perhaps going back as far as a year. You are also likely to find they are very prompt in sending in current invoices. If you are in funds, consider making payments as quickly as possible – you will be remembered.

Would you like to know more?

If you would like to discuss any of the points raised above, or have any questions please contact your usual Blick Rothenberg contact or one of the partners to the right.

You can also visit our Coronavirus – Practical Guidance for businesses today Hub for our latest insights and sign up here to receive important Practical Guidance updates delivered directly to your inbox.