Covid 19 – DEFRA Clarification on Critical Worker Status for Wood Products Supply Chain

Following discussions between the forestry industry (Confor) and DEFRA, it has been confirmed that necessary workers directly involved in key wood product supply chains are classified as critical workers in relation to the Governments Covid-19 restrictions.

A DEFRA spokesperson has confirmed that:

Those involved in the supply chain of wood for key goods (including, but not limited to pallets, heating, packaging, tissue paper, timber harvesting, sawmills) should be considered key workers. Only necessary workers, producing key goods, should continue to attend workplaces. Working from home should be encouraged for administrative staff.”

As a result, operations involved in the supply chain of wood feedstocks to biomass boiler users should be able to continue in line with current government restrictions. Such necessary workers (as defined above) will be able to access education provision for their children as outlined in the Government Guidance.

Such workers while at work should follow social distancing practices and must self isolate if they show symptoms of the virus.

Other Biomass Heat Workers

There are, of course, others involved in the biomass heat operations that are necessary to the installation and operation of efficient biomass boiler systems. At this time we direct members to follow the Governments advice as stipulated with their ‘Full Guidance on Staying at Home and Away from Others‘.

Within this guidance, it makes clear that wherever possible people should be working from home. However, in exceptional circumstances, where “work absolutely cannot be done at home”, staff may travel to work if they are healthy and adhere to social distancing practices. This includes work being carried out in people’s homes, such as tradesmen.

The REA and WHA is in close contact with BEIS as the industry is impacted by issues connected to Covid-19. Please do contact us if you have any further questions in relation to the above, while further advice can also be found on the REA webpage here.