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Morgan Sindall Construction defends workforce on new Fenland school building site over social distancing



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The building firm currently working on a new Fenland school has defended its workers after a local resident accused them of failing to comply with social distancing rules.

John Hopkins from Chatteris was so incensed by what he claims is unsafe working practices at the new primary school site adjacent to the Cromwell Community College that he complained to the Health and Safety Executive as well as Fenland District Council.

Mr Hopkins, himself a retired plasterer, said: "I totally understand people's need to work, especially if they are contractors and are self-employed. But what I have seen going on at the school site is totally unacceptable.

Workers on the new school site in Chatteris have been accused of failing to follow social distancing guidelines. (33936517)
Workers on the new school site in Chatteris have been accused of failing to follow social distancing guidelines. (33936517)

"Judging by the full car park there must be over 100 workers on site every day and there is no way they can abide by the social distancing rules. They are coming into Chatteris to work from all over the region, working closely together all day and then getting in their cars and driving home to their families.

"Who knows what they are taking home with them, they could be spreading the virus all over the region and I don't think that's right. If they want to keep working then they should stay on site, I would be happy to provide them with the food and drink that they need while they did that.

"I have complained to the HSE, but have not had a response and I have also complained to Morgan Sindall the company that's building the new school, and they haven't got back to me either. Everyone is in lockdown and trying to do their best to stop the coronavirus from spreading, but these workers seem totally oblivious to the rules.

Workers on the new school site in Chatteris have been accused of failing to follow social distancing guidelines. (33936521)
Workers on the new school site in Chatteris have been accused of failing to follow social distancing guidelines. (33936521)

"I walked down the path by the side of the site the other day and two men were carrying a plywood board. The board is 2m in length and 1.2m in width, but they didn't even have the common sense to carry it length ways between them. When they saw me taking photos, they shouted at me and then complained they would not doubt get a load more emails about the social distancing rules - so they must be aware that there have been complaints.

"My son is a self-employed builder and he isn't working at the moment because of lockdown, I want him and everyone else who is in the same boat to be able to get back to work as soon as possible. But the longer this virus carries on the longer we are going to be in lockdown."

However, a spokesman for Morgan Sindall Construction said: "In compliance with government advice, we are continuing to operate our site at Cromwell Community College.

"The safety and wellbeing of our team while they deliver this essential community facility is a key priority and as such, we have strengthened precautionary measures on site and are following the latest site operating guidelines.

“Current government guidelines acknowledge that it is impossible for some tasks to be carried out with workers spaced at least two metres apart and has set out a ‘hierarchy of controls’ for supervisors where two-metre distancing cannot be adhered to, which our team is closely observing.

“We have provided the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Environment Agency our current operational guidelines, demonstrating that the approved methods are in place.

"Both bodies have confirmed and acknowledged that they are satisfied that the appropriate site safety measures are being observed. We continue to review and monitor the measures that are in place to ensure the safety of our team and our community during this unprecedented time.”



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