Within the scope of governmental measures taken in response to COVID-19, the Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning General Directorate of Construction Works issued the Circular No. 2020/9 (“Circular“) dated March 20, 2020, which determines the measures employers must take to ensure that construction and audit services in the public and private sectors are carried out safely.
What Does the Circular Say?
The measures specified in the Circular include but are not limited to:
- If there is insufficient natural ventilation in common areas such as dormitories, dining halls and social facilities, employers should consider using air purifiers utilizing carbon filter, electrostatic filter, HEPA filter, active oxygen and UV technology.
- Employers should maintain social distancing in common areas such as dormitories, dining halls, social facilities, and transportation vehicles such as shuttles. If there is insufficient space for employees to practice social distancing, employees should have meals in shifts without any disruption to the business plan. If dormitories are not spacious enough to maintain social distancing, additional space must be allocated to be used as dormitories. Common areas must be disinfected on a daily basis.
- Common use of materials/equipment is not permitted. Employees must be provided with personal materials/equipment.
- The employer must ensure that there are thermometers, protective gloves, masks and disinfectants in construction sites. If there are any individuals who have COVID-19 symptoms, they must be isolated and the employer must contact the health authorities.
- Shift working or remote working systems must be implemented for departments that do office work, and common use of materials (such as pencils, erasers, calculators) is not permitted.
- Outside visitors can only enter construction sites wearing masks and gloves and after having their temperature taken.
- Those who carry out a construction’s project, audit and consultancy services are also required to take the measures specified in the Circular and to comply with all measures taken for the construction site.
- Depending on the number of individuals working in a construction site, a sufficient number of coordinators and audit teams must be organized to carry out inspections.
As the COVID-19 situation evolves, governmental agencies may alter their previous measures and practices. In order to minimize the administrative fines and legal or criminal liabilities that may arise due to violation of these measures and practices, employers must monitor future measures relevant to their sectors and work life in general.
These measures and practices may result in unexpected additional costs for contractors. Contractors should evaluate whether their agreements with employers contain any provisions entitling the contractor to claim the unexpected costs or request the adjustment of fees.
Please refer to https://www.esin.av.tr/coronavirus-desk/ for our client alerts regarding the legal consequences of COVID-19 on other areas.