The COVID-safe rules for construction reopening
With the Victorian construction industry reopening, the state government has issued advice about what workers need to do.
The dedicated Industry Engagement and Enforcement Operation will enforce workplace directions, targeting areas of high non-compliance or health risk. Authorised Officers may visit construction sites at any time and can issue fines and enforce closures.
Master Electricians Australia has provided answers to questions about what needs to happen before reopening, when construction resumes, and what will lead to eased restrictions.
Can unoccupied construction resume?
Tradespeople and builders cannot visit homes for renovations but can provide repairs, maintenance, home installations and other building works if able to perform the work solo (unless additional workers are required for safety reasons) and only outdoors. Physical distancing must be maintained at all times.
If you have vacated the property and it is completely unoccupied, then renovations can proceed in line with restrictions on small-scale construction.
If you’re still living at the property, then tradespeople and builders can only make emergency repairs indoors.
What needs to happen prior to opening on Tuesday, 5 October
- Before reopening, the site operator must complete a COVIDSafe construction declaration form available on the Service Victoria platform from Saturday, 2 October. This will make it easier for construction workplaces to follow the Chief Health Officer directions and keep worksites safe. Workers can enter a site to improve crib facilities, receive deliveries and for site re-induction.
- Your COVIDSafe Plan should be reviewed and updated regularly and discussed with your workers.
What must occur when opening from Tuesday, 5 October
All construction sites
- All workers must have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
- To be classed as fully vaccinated, a person must have both vaccination doses, or one vaccination and a booking by Saturday 13 November for the second.
- State critical infrastructure projects can return to 100% of their workforce if crib rooms have best practice approaches including ventilation and density limits.
- Crib rooms may be used, provided they meet the best practice guidelines.
- Crib room best-practice standard includes following the ‘COVID-19 Mandatory minimum requirements and best practice approaches for safe worker amenities on construction sites’ including density quotient one per person per 4 sqm; and additional ventilation so the entire air volume of the room is replaced or filtered every 10 to 12 minutes.
- Workers moving between metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria must be fully vaccinated, unless they are working on large-scale sites or state-critical infrastructure.
- Operators must have worker shift bubbles where practical.
Small construction sites
- Small-scale sites are capped at five people per site, plus a supervisor.
- COVID Marshals on small-scale construction sites may be a site supervisor.
Large-scale construction sites and state critical infrastructure projects
- Large-scale sites are capped at 25% of the workforce, or 50%, if crib rooms follow best practice standards and all workers are fully vaccinated.
- Workers on large-scale sites or state-critical infrastructure projects are permitted to travel between metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria to work on construction sites if they have received at least one vaccination dose. However, single vaccinated workers must be tested before crossing the boundary and they must get tested twice a week, with at least 72 hours between each test, until they receive their second dose.
Early development sites
- Early development sites increase from 10 to 20 workers per hectare, subject to the controls specified above for all sites.
From 70% double dose (estimated 26 October)
- Large-scale sites can go to 100%, if all workers on the site are fully vaccinated.
- Worker caps will progressively increase as the rate of vaccination increases in the broader Victorian community.
- Recommended that building fit-outs recommence.
From 80% double dose (estimated 5 November)
- Remaining workforce restrictions will be removed, other than pre-existing requirements such as COVIDSafe Plans, provided all workers on the construction site are fully vaccinated.
Best practice ventilation of crib rooms
- Wherever possible, workers should have their meals or other breaks outside, while maintaining physical distancing.
- Apply density limits.
- Adequate air movement is necessary and can be achieved through natural ventilation.
- Open doors and windows allowing fresh air from outside. If this is not possible use exhaust fans to increase airflow.
- Where mechanical ventilation is used, some adjustment in the heating ventilation air conditioning (HVAC) management plan may be necessary.
- Air should be refreshed five or six times an hour in a designated tea or meal room; that is, the entire air volume should be replaced or filtered every 10 to 12 minutes.
- If this is not possible, fans should direct air to an open space, based on advice from engineering services or an occupational hygienist.
- Authorised officers will increase over the next six weeks to support compliance and enforcement efforts.
- Sites will be shut down if they are non-compliant and penalties will increase.
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