Coronavirus – Safety guidance when installing Kingspan's insulation solutions

9 April 2020 Kingspan Insulation UK
Please note this article was updated on 2nd July 2020.
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During the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, it is essential to take effective precautions on any active construction sites to maintain safety and prevent transmission. To support site managers, workers and the wider construction industry, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has now published the guidance document Working safely during COVID-19 in construction and other outdoor work. This sets out a clear risk assessment process which all construction companies must follow.

The document includes a number of recommended steps which will typically need to be implemented as part of the risk assessment process. This is supported by the guidance within the Construction Leadership Council’s (CLC) Site Operating Procedures. It is important that site managers familiarise  themselves with both of these documents along with any additional local guidance which may apply in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

In this blog, we briefly summarise key recommendations within the two documents and provide guidance on how to comply with them when installing Kingspan’s insulation solutions.

Assessing and managing risk

The BEIS guidance document establishes a five step process for addressing COVID-19 on site which must be followed:

  1. All sites must carry out a risk assessment to minimise the chance of transmission. This should be shared with employees and, where possible, published on the company website.
  2. Clear cleaning, handwashing and hygiene procedures must be established – increasing the frequency of hand and surface washing.
  3. All reasonable efforts should be taken to allow staff to work from home in the first instance.
  4. Where this is not possible, reasonable effort must be made to maintain 2 metre social distancing (1 metre with risk mitigation where this is not possible).
  5. If a task requires workers to operate face to face without social distancing then consideration must be given to whether the task can safely go ahead.
A notice stating compliance with these steps is provided within the document and should be signed and displayed on all worksites.

The subsequent guidance in the BEIS document and Site Operating Procedures can be used to aid this assessment process.
 

Travel and access

It is recommended that steps are taken to provide additional parking/storage arrangements for cars and bicycles to reduce use of public transport. If workers are sharing car journeys they should look to do it with the same individuals and with good ventilation maintained. The vehicle should be regularly cleaned using gloves. Where staff have to use public transport there shift should be staggered to avoid them having to travel at peak times (5.45 – 7.30 and 16.00 – 17.30)

Access should be limited to essential staff only, and access points carefully monitored to support social distancing. This may require the number of access points to be increased (to reduce congestion) or decreased (to allow effective monitoring). Staff should always maintain correct distancing (including when queuing to enter site) and hand washing facilities should be provided and regularly topped up throughout the day.

All site guidance measures should be clearly communicated to visitors on or before arrival.
 

Shifts and site operations

To help maintain social distancing at potential congestion points, such as the site entry(s), canteens, changing facilities, showers and drying rooms, it is recommended that shifts are staggered so workers start, finish and take breaks at different times. Staff should be assigned to ‘fixed teams or partnering’ to limit the number of people they come into contact with.

Where possible, sites should be separated into working zones to keep different teams of workers apart and one-way systems established on walkways. Proper signage and markings should be provided to clearly communicate these measures.

Where social distancing guidelines cannot be followed in full, companies should look to take mitigating steps such as avoiding face-to-face activities, erecting screens or barriers and keeping activity time as short as possible.

Consideration should also be given to the minimum number of staff needed for a site to operate safely.
 

Facilities

Again, to allow for effective social distancing the site facilities should be audited and existing procedures adjusted where necessary. This should include:
  • providing additional hand washing facilities and rubbish bins (for paper towels) on large or highly populated sites;
  • restricting the number of workers accessing toilet or canteen facilities at any one time;
  • providing only pre-wrapped food and contactless payment in canteens and eliminating use of crockery or eating utensils; and
  • enhancing cleaning schedules so that all areas are regularly cleaned throughout the day with particular attention paid to touch points such as handles, locks and toilet flushes.
 

Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE)

The BEIS guidance states clearly that use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), beyond what staff would normally wear, is not beneficial and risk should instead be managed through social distancing, hygiene and fixed teams and partnering.

Version 5 of the Site Operating Procedures similarly recommends that RPE should not be used aside from as a last resort or when required by the specific environments where persons are shielding, with symptoms, or confirmed Coronavirus cases may be present i.e. in healthcare or home environments.
 

Worker self-isolation and procedure if they become ill on site

Workers must not come to site if they:
  • have a high temperature or a new persistent cough or is within 14 days of the first member of their household displayed these symptoms (these workers should observe Government self-isolation procedures);
  • are classified as a clinically extremely vulnerable person; or
  • are living with someone in self-isolation or an extremely vulnerable person.

Additionally, those considered to be at increased risk of severe illness are strongly advised to work from home.

If a worker begins to display symptoms on site then their manager or supervisor should be informed they should immediately return home, taking care to avoid touching anything and to cough or sneeze into a tissue or the crook of their arm. Procedures should also be put in place to consider how staff can be transported home if this situation arises.

Please note: the above is intended solely as a summary of the BEIS guidance and  Site Operating Procedures. Please refer to the original documents for full guidance. Additional guidance for tradespeople working in people’s homes is provided here.

How to maintain safe practice when installing Kingspan’s insulation solutions

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In line with current guidance from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, Kingspan Insulation is committed to keeping supply chains moving whilst maintaining safe working practices.

As with all work on site, the installation of insulation should be carefully planned to maintain correct 2 metre distancing between workers (1 metre with correct mitigation where this is not viable). Where site meetings are necessary to plan or brief workers on procedures, these should ideally be carried out outside or in a well-ventilated room with correct social distancing.
 

Delivery and storage

Information about site access, unloading and the availability and location of cranes or other machinery should be pre-agreed prior to delivery.

Where possible, Kingspan delivery drivers will remain in their vehicles during drop offs. If they need to get out to assist with unloading goods, then appropriate washing facilities should be provided to allow them to clean their hands before and after handling materials.

Ideally, all of Kingspan’s insulation products (including insulation boards, OPTIM-R vacuum insulation panels (VIPs) and Kingspan TEK panels and associated timbers) should be stored inside a well-ventilated building, with care taken to wipe down touch points such as handles regularly. If this is not possible, they should be kept at least 150 mm off the ground and covered with a pale pigmented polythene sheet or weatherproof tarpaulin.

When the materials are ready to be used, careful consideration should be given to where they should be positioned on site to minimise the distance that workers have to travel back and forth whilst installing and to provide clear access routes. This may include lifting pallets to upper storeys using a crane. Where lifting machinery is used, care should be taken to clean controls regular.

Handling OPTIM-R

Handling

Before handling any material, workers should ensure they are wearing correct Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including head protection and work gloves. To maintain correct distancing, it is advisable that the polythene packaging around a palette is removed by a single worker.

The lightweight, rigid nature of Kingspan Kooltherm, Therma and GreenGuard boards mean it should be possible for a single worker to handle all thicknesses of 1.2 x 0.6 boards. Similarly, it should be possible for all sizes of Kingspan OPTIM-R VIPs to be safely lifted by individual workers.

Larger, 2.4 x 1.2 boards should be handled by two workers. To ensure correct distancing, the workers should approach the boards from either side of the long ends and remain at these ends while carrying and manoeuvring them. Where possible, they should look to carry them side by side or facing away from one another rather than face to face.

For Kingspan TEK panels, the most appropriate handling procedure will depend on the dimensions of the panel section. It may be necessary to adjust the standard method statement so that panels less than 2.5 metres wide are also mechanically lifted. Workers should wash their hands before and after using this equipment.

Additionally, in accordance with the Site Operating Procedures, workers should use stairs over lifts or hoists where possible.
 

Cutting and installation

A careful pre-assessment should be carried out before installation to ensure that boards can be safely fitted by individual workers, or that a clear process can be identified to allow them to be installed by two workers whilst maintaining correct distancing.  This should include consideration for how a board may react to any wind loads – particularly when working at height. Where it is not possible to maintain two meter distance, each activity should be carefully risk assessed in accordance with the BEIS guidance referring to the Hierarchy of Controls within the Site Operating Procedures and against any sector specific guidance. In particular, if staff must work face-to-face for a sustained period then careful consideration should be given to whether the task can safely go ahead.

Any cutting of insulation boards (including OPTIM-R flex infill panels) should be carried out by an individual worker using a fine tooth saw, which is cleaned regularly (as should any other tools used during the installation process).

In all applications groups of workers should be assigned to teams which do not change members and are kept as small as possible as per the BEIS guidance. For internal applications, it is particularly important to minimise the number of staff within the space and to ensure that effective ventilation is provided.

When laying flooring or flat roofing boards, it may be necessary to lay additional protective scaffolding boards over the insulation layer to provide alternative routes and ensure appropriate distancing.
 

Waste and clean-up

Consideration should be given to how insulation offcut waste is managed. To limit site traffic, waste should be accumulated in a single area and transferred in bulk by individual workers. On upper floors, it may be appropriate to use a waste chute. In either case, clear guidance will need to be given to ensure appropriate spacing is maintained around the chute entry or waste disposal point and to ensure these are regularly cleaned.

At the end of each shift, workers should carefully clean any equipment they have used along with regular touch points such as door handles, machinery controls and stair railings. Any disposable PPE equipment should be discarded and reusable PPE equipment should be cleaned. It is recommended that reusable equipment is retained by the same worker.
 

How to protect Kingspan’s insulation solutions in the event of a site closure

If a site needs to close for any period of time, it is important to take steps to protect the insulation boards and Kingspan OPTIM-R and TEK panels. Any materials which are not installed should be returned to a well ventilated storage building or, if this is unavailable, raised above 150 mm and protected with pale pigmented polythene sheet or weatherproof tarpaulin.

Steps should then be taken to protect the edge of any layers of insulation which have been fitted and, where possible, to secure weatherproofing over the insulation to protect from inclement weather.

Please note – Both the BEIS guidance and Site Operating Procedures are under constant review and updated versions may be published in due course. This currently refers to version 3 of BEIS guidance published 24th June 2020 and Version 5 of the Site Operating Procedures. The  post will be updated to reflect any relevant changes if revised versions are published.