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Housebuilders launch safe working charter

Developers, builders and housing associations have teamed up with the Welsh Government to launch a house building Site Safety Charter to help construction sites reopen in line with latest health and safety guidance.

Housebuilders are gradually returning to work after a three-month layoff as a result of the coronavirus crisis and the document demonstrates a commitment to safe working whilst Covid-19 remains prevalent as well as government support for the resumption of housebuilding and sales activity.

They argue that stimulating house building activity can play a major part in supporting an economic recovery – as well as ensuring the supply of desperately needed new homes is maintained.

The plan is for housebuilders to display the Charter on their sites, reinforcing their commitment to safe working and helping reduce concerns that their workforce, neighbours and customers may have at the current time.

The charter aligns with the Welsh Government’s Coronavirus Regulations, guidance on moving home during the pandemic and workplace guidance for employers and employees. It has been developed by the Home Builders Federation (HBF) in agreement with Community Housing Cymru (CHC) and Federation of Master Builders (FMB) Cymru. It is available in Welsh and English.

Housing minister Julie James said:

‘The need for a secure, safe and affordable home has never been more apparent than during the coronavirus pandemic. The contribution of the construction industry to creating more of these homes and the economy has also been highlighted during the crisis. This is why restarting work on building these homes in a safe and controlled manner is vital. This safe working charter will help the construction industry and the social landlords that contract them to do just that.’

Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the HBF, said:

‘Over recent weeks house builders have commenced a gradual return to work, in a structured way that ensures the safety of its workforce and the general public. The industry sustains thousands of people in numerous roles and associated sectors, boosting local economies across Wales. A resumption of work will play a major part in helping the economy recover as well as delivering the homes the country needs.

‘It should also provide the supply chain with the confidence it needs to accelerate its own restart. The Charter is the public facing evidence which supports the very detailed protocols individual builders now have in place to ensure safe working on sites.’

Aaron Hill, head of policy and external affairs at CHC, said:

‘The coronavirus pandemic has demonstrated the importance of good quality, affordable homes, and the need for investment in housing to play a key part in the economic recovery in Wales and beyond. Housing associations have worked tirelessly to maintain a safe working environment throughout this period, and we are pleased to be supporting this charter which will protect the wellbeing of all those who are required to be on construction sites. This charter will play a key part in ensuring sites can operate safely as we work together to deliver the homes Wales needs.’

Ifan Glyn, director of the FMB Cymru said:

‘Getting back to building new homes to ensure that we meet housing demand is of course of great importance, but what is more important still is that we do so without jeopardising the sacrifices made to contain the virus during the lockdown period. We, the Federation of Master Builders Cymru, believe that following the commitments set out in this charter will ensure that house builders are able to get back to work safely. We are therefore very happy to endorse this Charter.’

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