Thousands of workers from across the country will continue to gather on the Hinkley Point C nuclear site – but work on the £106bn HS2 project could be halted – amid differing approaches in the construction industry to physical distancing aimed at containing the spread of Covid-19. Some of the 4,000-strong workforce at Hinkley, Britain’s biggest construction project, have raised concerns over an outbreak of coronavirus at the Somerset site after the government shut down restaurants, pubs and schools to contain the outbreak elsewhere. Around 1,500 workers helping to build Britain’s first new nuclear plant in decades live in temporary shared accommodation, either on the site or nearby, returning to their homes across the country at the end of each rota pattern. Almost all the remaining staff use bus services from nearby train stations to travel to the site, raising fears that the close proximity of staff working on the project could allow the virus to spread within the workforce and across the country. The company behind the project, EDF Energy, said on Monday that it plans to take “extra steps” to safeguard the health of workers on the site after workers raised concerns over crowded buses and close proximity of the workers in the local press. One Hinkley Point worker reportedly told Somerset Live: “When we get to the site, we have to clock in for our shift and there’s 600 of us who clock in and out at the same time. At this point, there are no hand sanitiser dispensers so you cannot wash your hands. There are also areas where people touch. You don’t know what germs are being spread as a result.” The company said it plans to conduct body temperature checks on all workers entering the site to check for a fever and has banned handshakes to help prevent the spread of Covid-19. It also agreed to provide extra buses to halve the number of people travelling in each vehicle so that they can be seated at least two metres apart.
Guardian 24th March 2020 read more »