Inferior CITB coronavirus construction advice should be ditched to avoid dangerous working practices

Unite, the UK and Ireland’s largest union, is calling on the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) to withdraw its ‘toolbox talk advice on social distancing due to the coronavirus, as it is inferior to other more comprehensive advice. Unite believes that competing advice is causing dangerous confusion for both employers and workers.

Conflicting advice

The CITB advice is a greatly reduced version of the Site Operating Procedures that have been drawn up by the Construction Leadership Council, which are being regularly updated and have cross industry support and Public Health England input.

Unite has many concerns about the CITB advice, as it is a very condensed version of the Site Operating Procedures. For example the CLC operating procedures clearly state: “If a site is not consistently implementing the measures set out below, it may be required to shut down.” The CITB tool box talk does not contain such a warning.

CITB concerns

The CITB advice is only aimed at what workers should do, while the CLC procedures cover both workers and employers’ responsibilities.

The CITB tool box is deficient in a number of areas including:

  • Issues about access points or site entry requirements, such as removing fingerprint entry
  • No explanation of how to safely conduct an induction process
  • No clarity on the provision of appropriate welfare facilities and making available welfare and cleaning equipment
  • No advice on dealing with deliveries on site
  • No advice on how to appropriately organise with canteen areas.

Harmful potential

Unite national officer Jerry Swain said: “Confusing and differing advice is potentially putting workers in danger.

 “The CITB tool box talk is inferior to the CLC advice and Unite would urge that it is taken down so that confusion is removed and that workers and all contractors follow the Site Operating Procedures.

 “The CLC advice has been drawn up in conjunction with Public Health England and is being regularly updated. There should be no confusion that this is what must be applied on construction sites.

 “It is imperative that if sites remain open that workers can socially distance at all times.”

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