Employees in Britain’s manufacturing and construction industries returned to different-looking workplaces today as coronavirus lockdown measures start to ease.
Some companies have put up signs asking workers to maintain social distancing by staying two metres apart, with extra hand-washing facilities for their staff in place.
Other firms have shut canteens and limited bathroom use to one person at a time, while employees are wearing face masks and other personal protective equipment.
Electronics firm Nidec Control Techniques, based in Newtown, Mid Wales, has a new system in place using cones outside the door of its toilets to ensure only one person uses them at a time
Further measures in place at some companies include a glass screen in front of certain staff – and extra shifts meaning fewer staff are on site at any one time.
In one example, electronics firm Nidec Control Techniques based in Newtown, Mid Wales, has reopened its factories with a variety of safety measures in place.
The firm, which employs 250 people at the site, now has 53 washing stations in place and moveable plastic shields to help staff safely work closely together.
There is also a new one-way system around the factory that is meant to keep staff two metres apart to ensure social distancing measures can be followed.
Nidec Control Techniques operations director Huw Mills shows how the electronics firm in Wales has developed moveable plastic shields to help staff safely work closely together
Nidec Control Techniques in Wales also has a new one-way system around the factory that is meant to keep staff two metres apart to ensure social distancing measures can be followed
The site, which suspended all production for three weeks in the lockdown, has implemented a queuing system if someone on this one-way system stops walking.
Operations director Huw Mills told BBC News: ‘There is no people passing each other which would breach the two-meter rule. You will not bump into anybody.’
The firm has also developed moveable screens, with Mr Mills saying: ‘This is something that our engineers have innovated, something that we’re using.
‘In a manufacturing space you do need to get up and close and personal with people. Our engineering team knocked up a mobile screen on wheels.’
Workers carry a pane of glass on a construction site near Guildford, Surrey, this morning
Construction workers are seen at a site entrance in London as the industry starts to return
The canteen is shut and no more than one person can be in the bathroom at any one time, with a sign saying: ‘Toilets to be used one at a time please’.
Anyone going into the bathroom uses their foot to shift a cone across the floor to indicate they are inside, and can then use their foot to open and close the door.
The company manufactures variable speed drives, which are used in pumps and fans and can be found in some of the pop-up hospitals seen in New York.
One worker said: ‘Sometimes you do have to think about it, because you see someone, and you… get into a conversation, and then you think, oh wait, step back.
Workers in hard hats work on a building construction site in Central London this morning
Construction workers gather in the City of London today as the industry gets back to work
‘We’re doing the best we can. Usually there’s four people on a line, but it’s just two of us so we’re just trying to keep the pace and carry on.
Another said: ‘You’re here, you’re here for eight hours and you’re working, so it takes your mind off it. It’s only when you get home you see the news again.
‘Sitting at home for weeks on end is boring, you get lethargic, here you’re active again, and it’s nice to meet your friends again.’
The company’s facility in Shenzhen was one of the first ones to go into the Chinese lockdown, but now that is back at full production again.
Construction workers look up at a building site in the City of London this morning
Construction workers work on a site in Staines-upon-Thames in Surrey this morning
Company president Anthony Pickering told BBC News: ‘Our facilities are as safe as we could possibly get it. If we find other ways we will obviously look at them.
‘But this is the unknown, there’s no textbook telling you what to do. We’ve had to figure this out as we go along.
‘We’re dealing with people’s lives, people’s income, trying to keep the business viable and to continue for the future.’
Boris Johnson unveiled a ‘conditional plan’ yesterday evening for easing restrictions in England, saying people could take unlimited exercise outdoors, travel to other places by car and should start going back to work if they cannot work from home.