Site working in the UK and COVID-19

As of 4 January 2021, the UK Government issued a new national lockdown for England. Similar restrictions are also in place in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Across the UK, the advice is for people to stay at home as much as possible, work from home if you can, wear a face covering where required, limit contact with other people and keep your distance (2m apart where possible) if you go out.

Across the UK construction sites remain open, subject to implementing effective safety procedures (this advice is accurate as of 27 January 2021).

CIfA is monitoring the situation regarding site safety and is in close contact with Prospect Archaeologists branch. 

We recommend that CIfA members and Registered Organisations ensure that safety procedures are in place on work sites and are assiduously followed to ensure safety.

CIfA's advice is to follow the government advice in whatever region you are working in. This means working at home wherever possible. Most archaeological organisations will also be working on site where that work can be undertaken safely. 

The UK Government is continually updating published guidance on Working safely during Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Construction and other outdoor work. The guidance specifically encourages employers should consider any advice that has been produced specifically for your sector, forexample by trade associations or trades unions. To this end, CIfA has endorsed Prospect's guidelines on UK site working. We are also working with Registered Organisations to share good practice examples with the intention of helping to define common standards across the industry.

The Industry Working Group issued a statement on Promoting a Safe Working Environment on Construction Sites during the COVID-19 Pandemic on 4 May 2020. CIfA will be continuing to work with Industry Working Group colleagues to examine evidence of site working practices and reflect on the application of guidance and where there is need for improvments and is currently looking to update the endorsement of Prospect's latest guidance.

Archaeological contractors may also find this Coronavirus site safety checklist from FASET useful. The checklist is designed for you to ask clients to complete to ensure that appropriate precautions have been taken to ensure safety on site. We recommend that CIfA members and ROs make use of this.

At present, while anyone is eligible for Government Coronavirus testing if they exhibit symptoms, currently on some local authorities are permitting construction workers to access free no-symptom tests. Please check with your local authority to see if you are eligible.

CIfA will continue to work with FAME and Prospect to identify how we can best support the sector at this very difficult time. If you are a member or a Registered Organisation and have concerns about the safety of work environments you are exposed to, please let us know. All accredited members and Registered Organisations have a duty of care to employees, colleagues and volunteers under Principle 5 of the Code of conduct. Any member who find themselves in an ethical dilemma where they are confronted by competing loyalties, responsibilities or duties should act in accordance with the Principles of the Code.  

CIfA members are also encouraged to read this FAQ on COVID-19 from the Protect advice service. CIfA membership grants access to the Protect service and members can call for free, confidential whistleblowing advice. We recommend that if you are being asked to work in unsafe conditions that you consult this advice and to contact CIfA for informal and anonymous advice

Our coronavirus advice webpage is regularly updated with information so please keep checking this.