Structural steel company John Reid & Sons Ltd (REIDsteel) has welcomed workers back to its manufacturing facility in Christchurch.

The company was one of the first to shut down its manufacturing and construction site operations following the Government’s implementation of the coronavirus lockdown in March.

After an extensive review of its steel handling and manufacturing procedures, it has resumed production with strict operating protocols and safety measures in place.

With the re-start of factory operations after a five-week suspension, the company is in the vanguard of businesses nationwide throwing open their gates to support employees and the UK economy.

Managing director Simon Boyd said: “The health, safety and wellbeing of our people, suppliers and contractors remains our first priority.

“We took the immediate decision to send all employees home on March 24 when the lockdown was first announced to stop any potential spread of the virus and allow us to assess ways to resume operations.

“Since then we have been working on plans to re-open the factory/works and our construction sites to allow those who cannot work from home back to work while still respecting the hygiene and social distancing guidelines.

“Following careful consideration of public health guidance, we are confident that we have robust protocols in place to allow production to resume at our manufacturing facility.

“These incorporate the necessary social distancing and safety measures to protect our people while we build towards full productivity to support our clients, partners in the supply chain and the UK economy.”

Simon added: “Although there is some nervousness, which one should expect, the vast majority of people are pleased to be back at work.

“Everybody feels much more reassured as a result of the lengths we have gone to ensure we have social distancing and hygiene in place.

“With the strict controls that we have I believe our staff are as safe, if not safer, than doing their weekly shop in the supermarket.”

About 60 employees have returned to REIDsteel’s manufacturing facility, while the majority of office staff – including design and detailing teams – continue to work remotely from home.

The company is working on safety plans with contracting partners to allow construction sites to re-open in early May.  It is also working with subcontractors and suppliers to resume operations.

Simon said: “My thanks to all of our colleagues, suppliers and contractors for their help and understanding during these difficult and challenging times.

“Despite these difficulties we are looking forward to a successful future operating within the ‘new norm’.

“I hope to see other businesses resume operations too once they have implemented social distancing guidelines and safety measures to protect their workforces while helping to get UK plc back on its feet.”

REIDsteel is a global business which trades in the UK, Europe and worldwide. It has exported to more than 140 countries to date.

It was the first contractor to sign the UK Steel Charter, alongside such signatories as Heathrow Airport and the Department for Business Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), to maximise the use of British made metals.

REIDsteel has also pledged to use British milled steel, by appointing British Steel as its preferred supplier to support the industry and UK economy.

The 130-strong business celebrated its centenary in 2019 and is a four times winner of the Queen’s Award’s for Enterprise (International Trade).