As UK construction workers are preparing to return to work after lockdown, there are some vital measures that will need to be put in place in order to comply with site safety in order to protect workers, visitors and homeowners too if appropriate.

In addition to ensuring that work can resume in line with government guidelines for social distancing, as part of the return to work risk assessment, it is also essential that proper attention is given to the water supply. If work has been suspended for some weeks and water systems have been left inactive, it is very likely that the water is now not safe so steps need to be taken to get prepared in order to welcome teams back to a safe working environment.

Water plays a key role in construction sites. From drinking water to drilling to cement mixing and supplying onsite portacabin facilities, work would not be able to continue without it. All sites have different water demands and will find their solutions accordingly but whether it is mains water or a temporary solution supplied via a tank, it will need to be checked in line with water safety management plans.

Mains water

Construction sites with a mains water system should ensure that they are flushed out thoroughly to make them safe if they haven’t been used for some time. During the inactive time, stagnant water can attract bacteria and microbes which, if not flushed through, may lead to the spread of disease. All taps should be run individually, starting with the tap which is nearest to the point where the water supply enters the site or building. The taps should be left to run until the water runs clear and cool. This applies to drinking water but also non-drinking water systems which may be used to supply toilets, washing facilities and showers. Take this time to also check that the pipework is in good condition and hasn’t suffered any damage during the weeks that the site has been closed,

Water tank systems

As many construction sites don’t have mains water connected, water tanks are used as the main water source throughout the construction project. If these have been left stagnant during the lockdown, they will have to be completely emptied and the water discarded as it is not safe to use. New tanks with a fresh supply of water should be ordered in advance of any work restarting to ensure that freshwater is available at all times.

Check equipment

Any equipment that uses water should be thoroughly checked and cleaned before reuse. A full and thorough flush through should be carried out if necessary in order to remove any stagnant water that may be lurking inside. This applies to all plant machinery but don’t forget the portacabin kettle and any water bottle fountains on-site too.

Keep us up to date

Most businesses will already have informed us about their temporary closures but if they’re planning to reopen, it’s very important that they complete our Reopening Premises Form to let us know and give us an up-to-date meter reading so that we can calculate all future bills accurately. It’s quick and easy to do on our website. Further help and advice can be found in the COVID Support section on our website.