The Construction Industry Federation has issued Covid-19 safety guidelines to its members in anticipation of a gradual return to work on 5 May.

The CIF says its members need to be ready to impose a strict health and safety regime if they are to start work again.

Among the guidelines in the Standard Operating Procedures document is staggered shift times with some workers on site from 7am to 2pm and others from 2pm to 8pm.

There is also an online induction programme for workers with guidance on hygiene, social distancing and travel to work which would limit the number of employees travelling together to three no matter how big the van.

The announcement follows meetings last Thursday between the government ministers, the CIF, IBEC and ICTU.

Tom Parlon director general of the CIF said, "We are walking ourselves into a massive financial deficit" with current restrictions while housing and infrastructure is badly needed.

He said construction is huge contributor to the economy with each house built raising €100,000 for the exchequer through VAT and income tax.

Mr Parlon also said that most construction workers are under 50 years, are not in high risk groups and work outdoors.

The CIF believes that social distancing can be easily achieved in house building where there are few people working together and civil engineering which involves operating machinery.

Projects involving Foreign Direct Investment clients like Intel will be more challenging with complex wiring required and he believes this will require "flexibility".

However, the CIF believes that the aim is not to achieve full productivity but start a gradual return to work.