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Covid measures including masks to remain on Tideway construction sites beyond Freedom Day

Tideway intends to keep many of its Covid safety measures in place on its construction sites beyond July 19, it can be revealed.

Measures including social distancing, regular testing and mask wearing will continue to be implemented on Tideway construction sites despite prime minister Boris Johnson’s announcement that mandatory restrictions will be lifted in two weeks time.

When asked if measures would remain beyond 19 July, a Tideway spokesperson said: “Several Covid-safe measures will continue on Tideway sites for the time being, in order to continue to help reduce the spread of the virus and protect our teams.

“These include enhanced cleaning, social distancing, regular testing and use of face coverings where appropriate. All of the measures will remain under review.”

Tideway revealed this week that it is 63% of the way through construction of London’s new “super sewer” with work due to continue for another four years.

The impact of Covid-19 has led to a £233M cost hike and nine month delay on the Tideway project, with Tideway chair Neville Simms this week admitting that cost pressures still remain.

Tideway has long been commended for its strong approach to health and safety. Its EPIC initiative has won many plaudits including winning the Health, Safety & Wellbeing Initiative of the Year at the BCI Awards in 2018.

As part of their project induction, every member of the workforce, from tunnel operatives to delivery drivers and office staff, goes through an immersive, multimedia health and safety training day.

Other major clients have said that they are in the process of reviewing their Covid safety measures following Johnson’s latest announcement. TfL said that it is currently “working with the construction industry to establish which Covid measures need to remain in place” beyond 19 July.

Meanwhile an Environment Agency spokesperson said that they “anticipate a phased and gradual approach from 19 July, allowing us to test and pilot our new ways of working”. The spokesperson added that the Agency is awaiting guidance from the government “to understand any continuing measures needed in workplaces”.

Both Highways England and Network Rail said they would consult their respective relevant trade unions and supply chain partners to discuss changes to Covid safety measures beyond 19 July.

A Network Rail spokesperson added that hypothetical scenarios under consideration include making face coverings voluntary on construction sites and removing social distancing.

Meanwhile, HS2 Ltd said that Covid safety measures will be set by contractors working on site and a spokesperson for Hinkley Point C said no decisions have been taken yet.

NCE Analysis – by Editor Claire Smith

The fact that Tideway has taken a clear stand on its Covid policy early on following announcement of what stage 4 of the UK’s roadmap will look like comes as no surprise to me.

Ever since preliminary work started on the project, Tideway has set out to go way beyond the legal requirements for heath and safety and set a much higher bar for itself.

Its award-winning EPIC safety induction positioned the project as a leader when it came to safety right from the outset. The immersive experience took staff beyond the day to day impact of safety and risk on site and presented a series of uncomfortable truths.

The investment in EPIC – and other areas since – showed how the project valued its staff and their wellbeing. The latest news that Tideway will continue to offer the best protection it can to staff on site from the risk of Covid is a further extension of the duty of care I’ve come to expect from Tideway. Minimum standards have never been something Tideway has wanted to be associated with.


Department of Civil Engineering