Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): construction sector guidance

Guidance on construction sites and associated works that can continue under specific conditions.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): construction sector guidance
Compliance and future development

Compliance and future development

Everyone is instructed to comply with the rules issued by the Scottish and UK Governments in relation to coronavirus, in order to protect both themselves and others. 

The regulator for health and safety at work, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is constantly applying their expertise to ensure people at work are protected, utilising the powers at their disposal under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. HSE is treating COVID-19 as a workplace health issue with regard to the protection of workers from infection. HSE can, and will, use the Health and Safety at Work Act to ensure social distancing in the workplace in relation to workers. HSE can be contacted by phone on 0300 003 1647 or online at HSE contact form.

Where HSE identifies employers who are not taking action to comply with the relevant public health guidance to control COVID-19 health risks to workers, HSE will consider a range of actions to improve control of workplace risks including the provision of specific advice to employers through to issuing enforcement notices. These actions will be taken under existing health and safety law. A framework agreement between Police Scotland and local authorities supports the referral of complaints about lack of reasonable physical distancing at work.

The STUC has set up a contact point for requests for support from trade union Health and Safety representatives:

Length of closure

This guidance extends until further notice. 

This guidance sets out both our initial response for the construction sector in helping to handle COVID-19, as well as beginning to develop a route-map towards restarting activities within overarching public health considerations.

The public sector is a major client group for the construction sector in Scotland. In support of our efforts to reset the sector, we have set down guiding principles in managing this situation through existing public sector construction contracts. We are looking for public sector clients and contractors to address pragmatically their mutual needs to ensure Scotland, both locally and nationally, retains a viable construction sector through these unprecedented times and that businesses emerge ready to resume work on existing projects and new opportunities.

Public sector contracting authorities should continue to progress pre-procurement activity, and progress to procurement where it is clear industry can respond, assisting suppliers to plan for, and schedule, full recommencement of operations as soon as practicable.

Progress towards restart of non-essential operations

We are developing plans to address the wider issues needed to get the industry restarted again. These include the easing of restrictions in a phased manner, following the Restart model developed by Construction Scotland on behalf of the industry. This is a six phase plan designed to support a gradual return to work, when the medical evidence supports that:

  • Phase 0 – Planning
  • Phase 1 – COVID-19 pre-start site preparation
  • Phase 2 – Soft start (only where physical distancing can be maintained)
  • Phase 3 – Steady state (only where physical distancing can be maintained)
  • Phase 4 – Steady state (where physical distancing can be maintained and/or with PPE use)
  • Phase 5 – Increasing density / productivity

Progress through these stages will be evidence led and dependent on all parties working in genuine partnership. As an initial stage we are planning for the construction sector to implement the first two phases in its restart plan from 29 May, with a decision to move to 'phase 2' of the construction sector's plan only after consulting with government to ensure it is safe to do so and in line with public health advice.

Easing restrictions will not mean returning to how things were before the virus. Physical distancing, hand hygiene, and other critical behaviours will be essential in each area to ensure public and workforce confidence.

We continue to work with business and employee representatives, seeking to learn from successful working practices on essential sites, looking for industry to develop innovative processes to support new ways of working, and also learning from examples from around the world. We are working closely with Health Protection Scotland to ensure that the health and wellbeing of individuals continues to be our priority as we work together on the managed restart of the sector. 

The Joint Statement between the Scottish Government; Police Scotland; Health and Safety Executive, and Local Authorities on Safe Workplaces: Advice, Compliance and Building Resilience provides further details of how we are all working together.

This guidance will be updated and reviewed as required in consultation with the sector’s employers and unions. Please ensure you use the latest version.

If you can suggest ways we can improve the guidance please contact the Construction Policy Team at  

It is for individual businesses in conjunction with trade union or workforce representatives to decide how best to successfully adopt and adapt guidance for their individual circumstances.