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When the Covid-19 pandemic hit last year, construction was one of the few sectors of the economy allowed to continue to working. However, as Alice Milsom outlines, the complexities, demographics, culture and working practices of the sector also meant managing and mitigating risk was challenging.
In March 2020, as we all know, a nationwide lockdown was imposed within the UK. The stay-at-home order was announced to combat the emergence of a new virus named SARS-CoV-2, otherwise known as Covid-19 (He et al, 2020). Essential industries, such as healthcare, construction, transportation and food sectors, were kept open, while non-essential industries, such as restaurants and entertainment were closed (Del Rio-Chanona et al, 2020).
The construction industry was one of the few sectors that had been allowed to continue working throughout the Covid-19 pandemic (Kale, 2020). Operating throughout the pandemic required organisations to have a robust Covid-19 risk management strategy, upholding and delivering high standards of occupational health care, whilst compliant with the government-recommended guidelines.
Part of this risk management strategy involved assessments being undertaken to identify the risks associated with work tasks, control measures evaluated and consistent with scientific evidence and medical and government guidelines (Health and Safety Executive, 2021).
The following year, in January 2021, the UK government and local authorities within England announced an asymptomatic testing programme. This included the provision of free testing kits for workers unable to work from home.
This testing has aimed to find individuals with active infections who are asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic in order that the chain of infection can be broken before wider spread (Rough, 2021).
The World Health Organization (WHO, 2020), however, stated that the accuracy of these lateral flow tests depended on several factors including: the time period from the onset of infection, the concentration of virus, and the reagents within the test kits.