COVID-19 and Engineering Services:
guidance (GN 2) revised
Explore every available option possible before deploying anyone on close proximity tasks.
Title Working in close proximity
Purpose Template indicating measures that enable essential work to be carried out closer
than government social distancing guidelines
Employers operating on-site (construction, maintenance or emergency call-out) during the
Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic must ensure they are protecting their workforce and
controlling the potential spread of viral infection.
Work on-site (and travel to, from and between sites) should only continue if:
• it can be carried out in line with the guidance issued by Public Health England (PHE);
• it can be undertaken without compromising safety and health;
• it is done in accordance with the latest Government guidance and current Construction
Leadership Council (CLC) Site Operating Procedure (SOP); and
• workers can travel safely and responsibly.
The three most effective ways to prevent the spread of coronavirus on site and when travelling
are:
• social distancing;
• effective hand washing; and
• thorough cleaning of all contactable surfaces and equipment – plus preventing
unnecessary sharing of items or equipment.
See government guidelines, and the current CLC SOP.
All activities need to be planned and organised to avoid all unnecessary close proximity
(less than 2m) between workers and others, to minimise the risk of spread of infection, and
no work should be carried out that requires skin to skin contact.
For any activity:
• Consult with workers beforehand about the planned mitigating measures
• Remind the workforce daily about social distancing, hygiene and all other necessary
mitigating measures.
© BESA and ECA 2020 This document is a general sector guide: the measures adopted must be based on a suitable and sufficient site-specific risk assessment and
with due consideration to the latest CLC SOP and PHE guidelines. Version 2.2.1
1. Eliminate close working where possible
Firstly, seek to eliminate the need for any type of close proximity working by e.g.
• Planning and arranging tasks and any other activity so they can be done by one person, or by
maintaining social distancing measures and preventing overcrowding
• Considering mechanical aids to reduce worker interface and proximity
• Government guidelines say ‘maintain a distance of two metres, or one metre with risk mitigation
where two metres is not viable.
2. Where closer proximity working is necessary and unavoidable
In line with the current CLC SOP and government guidelines, where it is not possible to follow the social
distancing guidelines in full for a particular activity, then:
1. “consider whether that activity needs to continue for the business to operate.” If this is so;
2. “take all mitigating actions possible” (applying the hierarchy of measures below) to reduce the risk of
transmission between workers and others.
• Comprehensive hygiene and clearing measures must apply at all times (government/PHE
guidelines/CLC SOP)
• Increase fresh air ventilation in any indoor/enclosed spaces.
Conduct a suitable and sufficient risk assessment, communicate the significant findings with the workforce
and introduce preventative measures and a safe system of work (method statement) to control the risk of viral
transmission.
Reduce
Where social distancing measures cannot be applied:
• Minimise the frequency and time workers are within 2 metres of each other
• Minimise the number of workers involved in the task
Workers should work side by side or facing away from each other: avoid face to face working wherever
possible.
Isolate
If workers must work within 2 metres of each other, keep the team:
• Together (do not change workers within teams) – also known as ‘cohorting’
• As small as possible
• Away from other workers or others, where possible
© BESA and ECA 2020 This document is a general sector guide: the measures adopted must be based on a suitable and sufficient site-specific risk assessment and
with due consideration to the latest CLC SOP and PHE guidelines. Version 2.2.1
Control
Where it is essential to carry out a task and work within 2 metres:
• Keep the activity as short as possible
• Consider using a permit or other authorisation process for close proximity activities
• Provide designated supervision (which may include a ‘compliance champion’) to monitor and manage
compliance with close proximity preventative measures
• Consider the use of temporary barriers between workers (e.g. clear flexible barriers in vehicles).
2a. PPE (including RPE) and face coverings
For typical construction and maintenance activity, government guidance and the CLC SOP do not encourage
the use of RPE (e.g. tight-fitting masks) as a protective measure against coronavirus. However, government
guidance adds that, following risk assessment, face coverings (e.g. cotton masks) may be selected (along
with other PPE) to further mitigate the risk from close proximity work:
1) as part of “all mitigating actions possible” and/or
2) in response to any client or main contractor requirements.
Face coverings and full-face shields (visors) may lower viral exhalation risk, notably from anyone who has
COVID-19 but is not yet showing symptoms. However, they do not provide significant inhalation protection
and they may become contaminated. If selected there should be collective use where possible (i.e. maximising
the number in a ‘close proximity’ group who wear a face covering or visor).
Eye protection can help to protect the eyes from airborne droplets, but visors may negate the need for light
eye protection (subject to risk assessment). Certain ‘valved’ face masks present a potential viral exhalation
risk, which may e.g. be mitigated by wearing a visor.
Any face coverings or visors should be distributed by the employer, along with instructions for use,
maintenance, replacement, and disposal. ‘Homemade’ or ‘site improvised’ face coverings or visors should not
be used.
The use of FFP3 tight-fitting masks is still required if risk assessment shows they are necessary to protect
against other significant workplace respiratory health hazards (beyond coronavirus).
Additionally, FFP3 or FFP2 masks may be used (where Coronavirus is the only respiratory hazard) if risk
assessment concludes they provide additional mitigation in close proximity situations.
Do not rely solely on RPE or face covering as the mitigating measure against coronavirus. The hierarchy of
measures above must first be deployed, to mitigate the risk as far as reasonably practicable. RPE and face
coverings are last in the hierarchy of protection against any airborne hazard for reasons that include:
• ‘face fit testing’ is required for half mask RPE, plus ‘fit checking’ before work starts
© BESA and ECA 2020 This document is a general sector guide: the measures adopted must be based on a suitable and sufficient site-specific risk assessment and
with due consideration to the latest CLC SOP and PHE guidelines. Version 2.2.1
• RPE (and particularly face covering) protection can deteriorate during use
• wearing RPE or face covering – even if it provides any extra protection – may change worker behaviour,
undermining
• hygiene and cleaning good practice
• face masks and cloth/cotton face coverings do not protect the eyes
• the standard and use of face coverings can vary greatly, greatly affecting any protection they might
provide.
Donning and doffing PPE and face coverings, and sanitisation and waste disposal, must be carried out
properly, to reduce the risk of viral contamination and spread, along with thorough hand cleaning. If selected,
visors should be washed following every shift in hot soapy water, or with antibacterial cleaning wipes.
RPE in locations with elevated risk of viral spread
Additional PPE (which may include RPE such as tight-fitting masks and surgical masks) should be considered,
subject to risk assessment, in work environments where there is elevated risk of viral spread) e.g.:
• where persons are shielding, or with COVID-19 symptoms; or
• confirmed Covid-19 cases may be present
See the ECA/BESA GN 1 guide on working in ‘Specific Environments’ (elevated risk of transmission).
Examples of specific environments might be health or care home settings, or some emergency domestic
settings.
Higher-protection types of RPE such as positive air pressure respirators, can offer effective onsite coronavirus
respiratory and face protection if necessary (e.g. in confined spaces), provided they have effective air filters.
Site requirements to wear RPE
Any overarching (e.g. site owner) requirement to wear/not wear PPE (including RPE) or face covering should
be dealt with in discussion with the site owner and/or main contractor.
1. Key sources of official information and advice
• www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/construction-and-other-outdoor-work
• SOPv5: https://www.constructionleadershipcouncil.co.uk/news/clc-site-operating-procedures-guidance-v5/
• For more on face fit testing RPE: www.hse.gov.uk/respiratory-protective-equipment/fit-testing-basics.htm
• See also for Wales: https://gov.wales/taking-all-reasonable-measures-maintain-physical-distancing-workplace
© BESA and ECA 2020 This document is a general sector guide: the measures adopted must be based on a suitable and sufficient site-specific risk assessment and
with due consideration to the latest CLC SOP and PHE guidelines. Version 2.2.1
Document
Ref
Issue Date Version Expiry Date Author Owner
July 2020 V2.2.1
This guidance does not supersede any applicable UK or national regulations or official guidance (noting that regulation or guidance may change).
Users of this guidance agree that ECA/BESA are not liable for any losses whatsoever (direct or indirect) arising from its use. All users should carry
out a ‘suitable and sufficient’ risk assessment to inform their decisions and actions, and ensure that all legal, contractual, safety, welfare at work
and health requirements are implemented and complied with, in line with any need for a Construction Phase Plan.
Important note:
This (revised) guidance note (GN 2) has been drawn up by the BESA and ECA to help contractors
working in the engineering services sector to work in closer proximity than 2m, where this activity is
essential.
GN2 provides guidance only – it must be adapted as necessary to fit the prevailing site and other
circumstances and based on a suitable and sufficient risk assessment. ECA and BESA can provide
further supporting information for respective Members on conducting suitable and sufficient risk
assessments.
Comments on GN2 are welcome and should be directed to either:
Paul.Reeve@eca.co.uk or Rebecca.Crosland@theBESA.com