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Last updateFri, 07 May 2021 10am

The importance of hand hygiene on construction sites during COVID-19

The government is regularly updating its guidance for employers, employees and the self-employed on how to work safely during COVID-19. This includes specific advice for those who work in on run construction sites, and other outdoor facilities.

The guidance sets out how to manage health, safety and security risks on site and makes specific references throughout to the importance of increasing the frequency of hand washing and sanitising, as well as enhancing cleaning procedures. This is particularly important where the social distancing guidelines cannot be followed in full, and where a two metre distance is not possible.  

One of the key steps that should be taken is to ensure hand washing facilities or hand sanitiser is available at all entry and exit points to the site. Providing hand sanitiser in any meeting rooms or communal spaces is also recommended. Encouraging all site operatives, as well as visitors, to make use of these facilities is essential to reduce the risk of infection transmission.

Steps are also set out within the guidance for sites that have been closed and wish to reopen, including increasing cleaning protocols and providing additional hand sanitisation measures, before work can recommence.

Section 5.3 of the guidance 5.3 focuses specifically on hygiene and outlines the steps that should be taken on site to ensure everyone maintains good hygiene throughout the working day. These include:

  • Providing extra handwashing and sanitisation facilities, for example, portable pop-ups, particularly on large or busy sites.
  • Displaying clear signage to encourage correct handwashing techniques and frequency.
  • Providing hand washing facilities and sanitiser in additional locations, as well as in washrooms.
  • Increasing cleaning procedures in areas of high footfall, and establishing more frequent waste collection.

Increasing handwashing and sanitisation facilities for workers handling goods is recommended to reduce infection transmission through contact. For instance, after contact with objects coming into the workplace and after contact with vehicles and equipment at the worksite.  As well as ensuring personal hand hygiene, all tools, controls, and machinery should be sanitised after they have been used. 

Employers, employees and the self-employed are urged to prioritise safety in the event of an accidents, fire or security breach. This includes safe guarding those who are responsible for the provision of first aid and ensuring appropriate handwashing and sanitation measures are followed immediately afterwards an incident.

The importance of good hand hygiene in relation to the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and face coverings is covered within the Government’s safety guidance for construction sites. If face covering are being worn by site operatives or visitors to the site, it is important that hands are washed properly – or hand sanitiser is used - before and after they are put on and taken off. 

Further information about working safely during the pandemic can be found at