Landscape industry provides Covid-19 guidance

Leading industry bodies have issued detailed advice and guidance to those working in the landscaping profession on safe working arrangements during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The team at the British Association of Landscape Industries (BALI) has been working tirelessly to obtain clarification from the Government as to what this means in practice for its site-based members in particular, many of whom are looking for reassurances with regards to their careers and income.

The Landscape Institute is continuing to seek clarity from government on how its members can work safely and effectively during this extraordinary time.

In an open letter to members, Wayne Grills, BALI Chief Executive, said he was disappointed to see there was no direct guidance for the landscape industry. Instead he had received a standard reply that mirrored guidance already issued by Government.

“Following the advice issued, we can only advise the Government has placed no restrictions on landscaping works continuing in England, Wales and Northern Ireland providing works can be carried out in accordance with Public Health England’s(PHE) guidelines,” he writes.

“It is understandable that many companies have chosen to continue operating, particularly as the guidance does not prevent them from doing soa nd many of these services are classed as priority infrastructure or ‘front-line’. If you are still trading, I urge you to follow PHE advice, continue to maintain the highest health & safety standards and implement new measures to protect yourself and your workforce from the virus, including social distancing.

“If you’re able to work from home and complete some tasks in preparation for your business’ re-opening, do so, as this is the best solution to keep the business operating.

“In Scotland, it’s a different story. The majority of sites have already closed, and Ministers have advised businesses to cease works and down tools, unless the landscaping is essentially required for front-line services, such as hospitals. Many members who work across borders are finding this mixed messaging difficult to manage.

“I have already reached out to my contact in Holyrood in Scotland for clarity and am awaiting a reply.

“Our recommendation is, where you can close, to close, for the safety of yourself, your employees and those at home.

“With the help of the Government’s financial support packages, if you are able to furlough staff and temporarily cease activity, this is the right thing to do. By doing so, you will help public services cope with the pandemic, including the NHS and police force, and protect our most vulnerable. This is absolutely critical; stay home, save lives.

“In the meantime, I will continue to push the government for more comprehensive answers to our questions and the current and future impacts on our industry.”

Meanwhile, the Landscape Institute has told members that at present, UK Government advice on working during the pandemic is changing regularly.

“Advice is also inconsistent across different sectors,” it states. “For avoidance of doubt, the LI strongly recommends that our members avoid any site visits and fieldwork – including for landscape assessment work – unless absolutely necessary. If visiting a site to carry out essential work, members should take appropriate precautions:

  • Avoid using public transport to access the site
  • When on site, diligently follow the government’s social distancing guidelines and the Construction Leadership Council’s Site Operating Procedures (23 March 2020)

“Our view is that members should exercise such caution until at minimum to Tuesday 14 April at the earliest,” the LI advice continues. “Based on further advice, the recommended date may be extended.

“Essential visits include work that supports key workers and work that, if avoided, would endanger health and safety. Key agencies in England such as the Planning Inspectorate and Natural England have already ceased most site visits. The Scottish Government has also issued guidance this week outlining different rules, especially for construction work.

“We urge our international members to check guidance issued by their own national governments and health authorities before conducting any external site visit.

“We are working to provide guidance and support during these difficult times. We will regularly update the page below and our practical resources blog as the situation develops.”

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