Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

Impact of COVID-19 on Health and Safety in the Construction Sector

Lookup NU author(s): Dr David GolightlyORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Construction has been significantly affected by COVID-19 yet is critical to the post-COVID economic recovery. Specifically, construction needs to be constantly aware of safety and risk balanced with timely project delivery. Guidance for COVID–19 must therefore be implemented in a way that reflects working practice and pressures. There is, however, a potential knowledge gap regarding the practical feasibility and impact of applying COVID-19 measures within construction, made more difficult by factors such as the temporary nature of projects and complex working arrangements. This paper presents a commentary on safe construction during, and beyond, COVID-19, covering the human factors challenges and practicalities of implementing COVID-19 measures. We observe that while guidance is strong on risk management, understanding of how best to implement this guidance is not yet stable. Also, care must be taken that implementing guidance does not detract from general safety, which is also challenged by increased pressures on delivery arising from COVID-19. There may, however, be opportunities for safer working practice arising from new awareness of health, hygiene and safety risk. The role of safety leadership is overlooked in guidance yet is vital to ensure safe application of COVID-19 working practices. The key message is that COVID-19 needs to be integrated and promoted within a general risk management approach, in part because this takes account of differing priorities regarding safety risks, rather than overly focussing on COVID-19, and also because the effectiveness of COVID-19 mitigations can be amplified by integration with pre-existing safety processes.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Stiles S, Golightly D, Ryan B

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Human Factors and Ergonomics in Manufacturing and Service Industries

Year: 2021

Volume: 31

Issue: 4

Pages: 425-437

Print publication date: 01/07/2021

Online publication date: 12/01/2021

Acceptance date: 06/12/2020

Date deposited: 07/12/2020

ISSN (print): 2157-4650

ISSN (electronic): 1520-6564

Publisher: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


DOI: 10.1002/hfm.20882


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric