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Tue April 16 2024

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New version of Site Operating Procedures includes risk management hierarchy

15 Apr 20 A third version of the coronavirus Site Operating Procedures has been published, with the addition of a risk management table.

The Site Operating Procedures (SOP) set out how construction sites should manage the risk of Covid-19 spread by maintaining a regime of personal hygiene and social distancing – workers are to stay two metres apart at all times wherever practical and as much as possible.

A second version of the SOP was published on 4th April – they are written by Build UK on behalf of the Construction Leadership Council – but was ripped up within hours for going too far. Version 2 said that work should not go ahead if social distancing could not be adequately observed and enforced. This went against the grain of the economic imperative to keep the nation working and the money flowing.

Version 3 sticks to the ‘wherever possible’ credo, but has the addition of a useful risk management table – Hierarchy of Controls.

SOP Version 3 states:  “If you are not able to work whilst maintaining a two metre distance, you should consider whether the activity should continue and, if so, risk assess it using the hierarchy of controls below and against any sector-specific guidance.”


  • Workers who are unwell with symptoms of Coronavirus (Covid-19) should not travel to or attend the workplace
  • Rearrange tasks to enable them to be done by one person, or by maintaining social distancing measures (two metres)
  • Avoid skin to skin and face to face contact
  • Stairs should be used in preference to lifts or hoists and consider one ways systems
  • Consider alternative or additional mechanical aids to reduce worker interface

Site Meetings

  • Only absolutely necessary meeting participants should attend
  • Attendees should be at least two metres apart from each other
  • Rooms should be well ventilated / windows opened to allow fresh air circulation
  • Consider holding meetings in open areas where possible


Where the social distancing measures (two metres) cannot be applied:

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  • Minimise the frequency and time workers are within two metres of each other
  • Minimise the number of workers involved in these tasks
  • Workers should work side by side, or facing away from each other, rather than face to face
  • Lower the worker capacity of lifts and hoists to reduce congestion and contact at all times
  • Regularly clean common touchpoints, doors, buttons, handles, vehicle cabs, tools, equipment etc.
  • Increase ventilation in enclosed spaces
  • Workers should wash their hands before and after using any equipment


 Keep groups of workers that have to work within two metres:

  • Together in teams e.g. (do not change workers within teams)
  • As small as possible
  • Away from other workers where possible


Where face to face working is essential to carry out a task when working within two metres:

  • Keep this to 15 minutes or less where possible
  • Consider introducing an enhanced authorisation process for these activities
  • Provide additional supervision to monitor and manage compliance


Sites should not use RPE for Coronavirus (Covid-19) where the two-metre social distancing guidelines are met.

  • Where it is not possible to maintain a two metre distance, each activity should be risk assessed using the hierarchy of controls and against any sector-specific guidance, mindful that masks (RPE) are the last resort in the hierarchy
  • Re-usable PPE should be thoroughly cleaned after use and not shared between workers
  • Single use PPE should be disposed of so that it cannot be reused
  • Where personnel are required to work in specific environments (e.g. where persons are shielding, with symptoms, or confirmed Coronavirus (Covid-19) cases may be present e.g. healthcare or in a home environment) additional PPE should be considered specific to the Coronavirus (Covid-19) risk


The measures necessary to minimise the risk of spread of infection rely on everyone in the industry taking responsibility for their actions and behaviours. Please encourage an open and collaborative approach between workers and employers on site where any issues can be openly discussed and addressed.

The full Site Operating Procedures, version 3, can be downloaded at

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