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Work Tasks Rated By Risk To Help Contractors Manage Their Return To Work

 Work Tasks Rated By Risk To Help Contractors Manage Their Return To Work
07 May 2020 | Updated 13 May 2020

Common work tasks in the finishes and interiors sector are being rated according to their difficulty to complete during social distancing.

The specialist trade body, Finishes and Interiors Sector (FIS) is using a traffic light system to assign the level of change needed to successfully perform individual tasks.

The overall aim is to help contractors manage their return to work during the COVID-19 pandemic. 


“The industry now needs to be better than it has ever been – for too long we have been overly contractual and this has led to risk avoidance rather than risk management.” 

–Iain McIlwee

CEO, Finishes and Interiors Sector 


Over 100 work items “difficult to maintain” during two-metre rule


The FIS has identified over 100 work items that are currently performed in the finishes and interiors sector where it was deemed difficult to maintain the two-metre working rule. Each task is assigned a ‘traffic light’ category (red, amber, or green).

The research has resulted in a Four Step People First COVID-19 Safety Protocol and supporting toolkit.

The four steps are:


  • Start Safe – Essential information for workers and guidance on travelling to site
  • Site Safe – Building on requirements in the Construction Leadership Council’s (CLC) Site Operating Procedures
  • Task Safe – Assessing tasks against the 2m working rule
  • Home Safe – Advice on decontamination processes


The task group set-out to review common tasks in the sector through a detailed survey, the results of which identified eight tasks (red) that cannot be done by following current methods and 32 tasks where significant change to the process is required in order to maintain the two-metre social distancing rule (amber).  

The Task Assessment Tool collates the data and against each task provides a suggested review of existing methods of working and controls for the two-metre rule.

The task group is being supported by over 30 H&S experts from the sector. Whilst new tasks can still be reviewed against the criteria, the focus of the group is now on developing clearer information on appropriate PPE, reviewing innovative ideas and exchanging and sharing best practice in order to support safer working across the sector.


Innovation rather than infighting 


FIS CEO, Iain McIlwee said: “Collaboration is critical at the moment.  There is a lot of information out there, but it can be difficult to line up and lacks critical detail – this has the potential to lead to conflict and compromise.  Some compromises could take us too far – our approach has to be people first.  

“Beyond this, we are aware of the contractual pressures on our community and it is vital that companies have a formal review process to identify if people can get to site safely, the site itself is safe and that work that needs to continue can be managed safely.  The easier we can make and the more we can support this review process, the fewer disputes there will be.

“The industry now needs to be better than it has ever been – for too long we have been overly contractual and this has led to risk avoidance rather than risk management.  As we start to return to work we must leave the bad old days behind us, avoid the disputes, siloed thinking and tiered approach, instead focussing on finding ways to support one another, putting our energy into innovation rather than infighting”.

Picture: A photograph of someone wearing a toolbelt 

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 07 May 2020


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