Laing O’Rourke, the main contractor on the £700m hospital rebuild project has outlined the safety processes it has implemented after workers expressed worries over a “lack of health measures on site”.
The construction firm defended its position with regard health and safety measures to curb the spread of Covid-19, following a local media report on Monday that highlighted the workers’ concerns.
A spokesperson for Laing O’Rourke said: “The Government has been clear that the construction sector should continue working and follow Public Health England’s social distancing guidance.
“Our priorities from the start have been to protect our people, and slow the spread of the virus, and to maintain some level of operations as we progress work on a project that will be a vital asset for the NHS and the people of Liverpool.”
The Liverpool Echo reported that it had been contacted by a number of tradesmen working on the delayed 646-bed hospital who had expressed concerns over an “absence of social distancing measures” and a lack of protective masks.
In a statement, Laing O’Rourke said it had introduced practices to bring measures into line with the requirements of trade body the Construction Leadership Council’s updated site operating procedures, including splitting the workforce into day and night shifts, implementing “stringent hygiene measures”, and providing additional canteen space.
The statement added: “Social distancing rules have been implemented in our welfare facilities and signage has been installed at key points within the project as a reminder to people to maintain safe distancing.
“We understand that people may have concerns presented by this evolving situation, and we listen carefully to any points raised by our teams and will review challenges on a constant basis to help protect people further.”
The scheme intends to replace the existing buildings and create one of the largest emergency departments in the North West of England. Construction work started in 2014 and was due to complete in 2017, but the project suffered delays linked to the collapse of its original main contractor Carillion, as well as a plethora of structural issues.
The project is now expected to cost at least £724m, compared with £350m projected in the original business case, according to a damning National Audit Office report published in January.
The hospital NHS trust has now set a revised completion date of 2022.
Laing O’Rourke took over as main contractor after Carillion’s collapse. A £20m tender is out for remediation work to fix sub-standard cladding on part of the building.
Part of the hospital has been operating as a ward for coronavirus patients during the national lockdown.